Mike Stewart. Assistant Curate.

Mike was licensed as a Lay Worker on the 5th July by the Bishop of Warwick. That weekend Mike, along with his cohort, would have been ordained Deacon at the Cathedral but of course Covid-19 has made that impossible. Mike will be ordained with his colleagues (hopefully) on 27th Sept. As Lay Worker, Mike will be able to fully participate in ministry with Vicar Craig Groocock at St Andrew's as he would have done as an ordained deacon.

Mike grew up in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, with his mother and father and younger sister. At 16 he left school to work in administration with the NHS which I did for 3 ½ years before being able to follow his dream of becoming a professional gardener.

His first job in horticulture was as an Under Gardener at Arbury Hall estate in Nuneaton, following that he was lucky enough to be selected as one of three trainees by the Professional Gardeners Guild to undertake a 3 years on the job traineeship, this allowed him  to work first hand at some of the top historic gardens in the country and to learn from some of the best gardeners in the industry. His three years consisted of working and living at, The Garden House in Devon, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, and Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. Following that he became Head Gardener of Piers Court in Gloucestershire, and then a long stint as Senior Gardener at Grimshaw Hall in Knowle, during his time there he and his team  completely transformed a tired and neglected garden and started to make inroads into turning it from a sad and tired looking mess into a beautiful and exciting garden that was very much worthy of the beautiful oak timber framed house. His final job before starting at theological college was as Estate Manager at Hampton Lucy House just outside Stratford.

In late August of 2018 Mike moved to the village of Cuddesdon on the outskirts of Oxford to take his place as a student at Ripon College Cuddesdon. He has been undertaking a Common Awards Diploma in Theology and Ministry.    Mike says  “Having never been in any form of higher education I did at first find it comical that I was sitting just outside of Oxford studying at degree level when I wouldn’t make it through UCAS in any other educational institution in the country, proof if ever it was needed that God has a sense of humour!”

Mike has played cricket for a number of years within the Warwickshire league (in the lower leagues) and has also been secretary and vice chairman of the club that he played for.   He is also a qualified cricket scorer.  He has recently taken up golf.     He enjoys socialising and meeting new people.    He will fit in so well at St. Andrew’s and everyone is looking forward to welcoming Mike in true Shottery style.

Vicar Craig Groocock says 'I am delighted that Mike is joining us at St Andrew's this Summer. Mike is a great guy who comes to us with so much experience of life. He can relate to most people and will bring a 'down to earth' approach to the ministry here. I am looking forward to working with him over the next three years as I know he will bring so much to St Andrew's and to the wider town'.

Mike says he is very much looking forward to meeting everyone at St. Andrews and the wider community, virtually initially, and then in person as and when it will be possible.