Your stories: Rachel Foster

The Revd Rachel Foster is Assistant Curate in the Poringland Benefice as a Self-Supporting Minister.

I received ‘the call’ whilst a serving police officer and, to be honest, it was the last thing on earth I wanted to be doing! However, it did not go away, and it was impossible to ignore. I was approaching retirement from the police and had been recently widowed so my life was disrupted enough already. At least that is the way I viewed it. I was in the police from early 1980s – 2013 with a gap whilst I brought up my two children.

I joined the police chaplaincy team after retiring as a frontline officer and this was before I had even considered, let alone been accepted for, formation to the priesthood.

I completed my ordination IME1 training with the Eastern Region Ministry Course and stayed at my current parish as assistant but with a Pioneer leaning that had been discerned during the early stages of exploration.

I always knew I was not called to parish ministry and my previous experience in chaplaincy with the police was a springboard to work with the Each Anglian Children’s Hospice at Framingham Earl as a volunteer chaplain when they relocated to our benefice area from Quidenham approximately three years ago.

I had previously worked as a group leader with Musical Keys in the 90s and had led groups in Norwich and at Quidenham hospice, so this was a pleasant revisit with my work with special needs children as EACH offer a lot of respite care as well as end of life care to children and their families.

I currently work proactively one day a week at the hospice and at other times when required, both with staff and with families.

It is pretty amazing as I see how the hand of God has led me through the paths of Musical Keys and police chaplaincy to be where I am now in my later years of life – a time when it is traditionally expected to be winding down a bit!

My experience as a member of Norfolk police – re-joining after producing a family – caused me to be very diversity-aware, for which I am hugely grateful, and I find myself drawn to the areas of diversity sadly lacking currently in the church. I am one of the Diocesan advocates for the Living in Love and Faith initiative.