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Church People


 Briony NewportBriony Newport: Elder and Church Secretary

I became an Elder at Cumnor URC in January 2014. Previously I served as a Deacon at Botley Baptist Church for 12 years before finding the warmth and spiritual home at Cumnor URC more suited to my journey of faith.

I am a retired Chief Executive's PA and have been involved in community work for 40 years. I have helped achieve diverse projects over the years: a playgroup, summer play schemes, the Thames river garden at Osney and nearby bus lay-by, restarting Botley Youth Club, a community newsletter and a seated exercise class.

I was a councillor on the VOWH District Council for 16 years and whilst Chairman 2002/4 I met members of the Royal family on 5 occasions. In 2007 when I retired from politics I was unusually made an Honorary Alderman. I served 16 years as a Parish Councillor and 12 as a School Governor.


 Beryl ParmenterBeryl Parmenter: Elder and Assistant Church Secretary

I was born and brought up in Lancashire in a Church of England family. Always a keen linguist, when I left Grammar School I moved to London to study Business French and German at the Central London Polytechnic.
After a stint working in Germany, I moved to Holland in 1981 where I worked for a number of years for Netherlands Railways. Whilst living in Amsterdam I started to attend the English Reformed Church (part of the Church of Scotland) where I both sang in the choir and served as a Deacon.
In 1989 I met my husband, Tony, on holiday in Greece and following our marriage in 1990 (in my beloved English Reformed Church), I discovered my new home at Cumnor URC in 2009. I became a member in 2009 and an Elder in 2010.
Following my move back to the Oxford area, I worked for many years in educational publishing selling English language teaching materials across the world. As a keen cyclist, any spare time that I have, I'll be found "in the saddle".

 Richard DewarRichard Dewar: Elder and Treasurer

I was brought up in the Church of Scotland in Motherwell where I was ordained as an elder. I was also Finance Convenor of my Church. I have a BA in Accounting and Law and am a qualified Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor. While still living in Scotland I became involved in various charitable activities as their treasurer. The first was The Abbeyfield Society a care home for the elderly, Cala Sona Enterprises which provided sheltered housing for Lithuanian Refugees. After moving to England I carried out the same role for the Christian Aid Committees in Twyford, Berkshire and more recently in Cumnor, Oxford until 2012.
After spending 10 years in the accounting profession I moved into a finance role in manufacturing, later moving south to Berkshire with the same company. It was at the local badminton club in Twyford that I met my wife Daphne. We got married in Twyford URC and set up home in Henley-on-Thames where we became members of Christchurch URC. I also served as an elder there. My job, however, took us to California where we stayed for two years before returning to England and setting up home in Cumnor, Oxford. I worked at the World Headquarters in Abingdon of a FTSE 100 company in various senior financial roles until I retired in 2000. Having settled in Cumnor we became members of Cumnor URC where I am now Treasurer and Lettings Administrator.
After retiring I took up golf, which continues to be my spare time passion.

Sheila Townley Sheila Townley – Elder

I have lived in Oxford all my life and after leaving the Oxford Girls School I worked in the Counting House at the Oxford University Press.  I met my husband there, we married in 1956 and had three children.

Later I worked at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and eventually in the Neuro Theatres at the Radcliffe Infirmary.  I found the work most interesting and witnessed many innovative new surgical procedures taking place for the first time.

My husband died when I was 49 years old.  Three years later I married Dick, who was my first husband’s cousin and a widower, in Cumnor Church.  We have now been married for 27 years.

I made friends with Caroline Cooper who introduced me to Cumnor United Reformed Church where I was made so welcome and the people I met so friendly and supportive.  I was glad of this when I developed throat cancer many years ago, members of the church helped through some difficult times.  Again too when my first daughter in law Fiona died.

For nine years I ran the Fair Trade stall every week.  Recently we decided to just order from the Christmas catalogue.