Vicar was a Sussex journalist

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A former journalist who worked for a Sussex newspaper before being ordained into the Church of England is moving from his parish in Old Heathfield to South West London next year.

Revd David Guest, who arrived in the parish of All Saints’ Church (Old Heathfield) with St George’s, Broad Oak six and a half years ago, is moving to the team ministry at the parish of Mortlake and East Sheen. He will be licensed as Vicar of Christ Church on March 1 next year.

Mr Guest, 54, was born in Shoreham, educated at St Nicholas and later St Andrew’s School then became a reporter on the broadsheet Portsmouth News and what became the Chichester Observer. He enjoyed his time as a reporter but felt he wanted to do something else. He explained: “I was deputy chief reporter and chief arts writer which was wonderful. But friends asked me if I had a calling to the ministry and I suppose I did.”

How did he find the task every reporter faces - the requirement to appear on the doorstep of a bereaved family and ask for their help in composing a tribute to their lost son, daughter or partner?

“I found it difficult. I remember a terrible case when a young boy drowned in Chichester Harbour. It was a big story and we had national newspapers camping on the doorstep. The great advantage of a local paper is that people know you and trust you. We didn’t hide in the bushes.” Because of his media experience, after ordination he was inevitably drawn into writing and publicising the work of the church in newspapers and on radio and TV.

His move to the affluent suburbs in South West London represents a huge social change. “Richmond Park and the Royal Ballet School are in my parish. Big houses cost £1 million plus and when people move into the area they find no spare money, no disposable income. Life can be as isolating in London as the country. I will try to be there for everybody.”

How does he feel about leaving Heathfield? “I worked to bring local churches together and tried to introduce new ideas which, thanks to the support of wonderful parishioners, I think we have done. For example we held the Broad Oak Summer Festival which was a great success and drew in hundreds of people who might not necessarily have come to the churches.

“London is a much broader canvas with every imaginable culture and a great challenge.”

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