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Church People

Nigel AppletonRevd. Nigel Appleton: Associate Minister (Until Induction of Rev Helen Garton on 21 July 2018)

After completing degrees at the University of Hull and the University of Cambridge, Nigel Appleton was ordained in 1970, having trained for ministry at Westminster and Cheshunt Colleges, Cambridge. He served local churches in Northampton and Grimsby and then spent a year as Ecumenical Officer for Lincolnshire and South Humberside. During those years he also served as Free Church Chaplain in St Crispin Psychiatric Hospital, Northampton and the General Hospital in Grimsby. He was the Free Church representative on the Humberside Education Committee, a school governor, and also served as a Magistrate on the Grimsby Bench.

In 1984 Nigel left stipendiary ministry and for ten years worked in various roles for the Anchor Housing Trust, leaving the Trust as its Director in 1995. He established a specialist research and consultancy business working at the intersection of housing health and social care and focused on the needs of older people and adults with disabilities. He is the author of more than twenty publications, including a number for government departments and agencies.

After a period of occasional leading of worship, Nigel re-engaged with Ministry in 2000, becoming Support Minister to Revd Susan Durber at Cumnor URC. In the current ministerial vacancy he is serving as Associate Minister in Cumnor.

Among his other roles within the URC, Nigel is the Alternate Chair for meetings of the Wessex Synod, a member of the Synod Executive and a trustee of the Wessex Trust. Nigel is co-ordinator of the link between the Wessex Synod and the Lusaka Presbytery of the United Church of Zambia. He is also a General Assembly appointed Governor of Westminster College, Cambridge, where he also convenes the Management Committee.

Nigel is married to Glenda, they have four children and six grand-children. In his leisure time Nigel enjoys reading, travel at home and abroad, spending time with his wife and grandchildren, and time on his narrowboat.


 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.