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'Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, she's an inspiration'

RESPECTED BY MANY: Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin

COMMUNITY FIGURES have praised Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin who last week was appointed as the Bishop of Dover.

The appointment makes Rev Hudson-Wilkin, currently Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Chaplain to the Queen, the first black female bishop in the 485-year history of the Church of England.

Speaking to The Voice about the significance of her appointment, Sir Geoff Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, author and human rights activist, said: “It’s a historic moment not only for this country but for the black people who came to this country and had to fashion a life against all kinds of odds.

“For Rev Rose to have achieved this is something that we all admire and we honour her.”

There were emotional tributes from many including singer Jermaine Jackman who spoke of how “proud, happy and excited” he was for the new bishop who he said always made time to “engage, empower and inspire young people and communities”.

Rev Hudson-Wilkin said that she was looking forward to her new role and told The Voice she wanted to see more black people appointed to senior positions in the church.

Jackman, who has worked with Rev Hudson-Wilkin on a number of community projects, said it was this call for greater diversity that marked her out as someone who was effective in breaking down barriers.

He told The Voice: “Through her work and dedication within the church and her leadership and presence outside the church, she is a great example of someone who goes above and beyond their call. Throughout my childhood and to this day, I have known Rev Rose to be hard-working and busy as she continues to break down those barriers while always making the time to sit down and talk, especially when it’s to seek guidance and advice.”

Jackman continued: “Rev Rose always has the time to engage, empower and inspire young people and communities. I wish her all the best.”

There was also praise from Dr Joe Aldred, of Churches Together in England, a network of Christian churches.

Dr Aldred said: “It has been a rare privilege to watch Rev Rose grow through the various stages that have led to her elevation to the bishopric in the Church of England.

“She is a special gift of God to the church and wider community and in my admiration for a ministry forged in and shaped by life’s challenges, I wish Rev Rose God’s continued presence and empowerment.”

Baroness Doreen Lawrence told The Voice: “She has done some wonderful work as chaplain to the Queen and Commons speaker over the years.

PRAISE: Baroness Doreen Lawrence was among the many people to congratulate the newly appointed bishop

“This is an extremely significant and well-deserved appointment, and I wish her all the best in her new position.” Angella Rose-Howell, Deputy High Commissioner at the Jamaican High Commission, pictured inset above, said: “I am extremely elated by yet another ground-breaking and historic achievement by Reverend Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a very highly accomplished, respected, well-loved and appreciated daughter of Jamaica.

“The High Commission has had long-standing excellent relations with Rev Rose and my team, and I join in congratulating her on this remarkable appointment.”

Another leading figure who welcomed Rev Hudson-Wilkin’s appointment was former Metropolitan Police superintendent and former chair of the Black Police Association Charitable Trust, Leroy Logan.

Reflecting on the importance of her appointment as Bishop of Dover, Logan said: “For me, it’s one of the most significant appointments I have seen in this country. The only thing that would top it is having a black prime minister, that’s how I see it, because the church is one of those institutions of government.

“You have to remember that bishops sit in the House of Lords, so don’t discount the possibility that she could be a peer in the future.”

Rev Hudson-Wilkin’s sister, Shirley Samuels, congratulated her sibling. Speaking to The Voice she said: “You have answered God’s call and have been steadfast in walking in your calling to serve.

“Continue to trust God to be your guide every step of this new journey and He will do the rest. The family, our friends and countrymen are very proud of you.”

Her niece, Latoya Neil, said: “Rev Rose is a hero for me as she has faced so many adversities being a woman from the Caribbean. But she stood strong in her faith and virtues which is inspirational for me. She exudes greatness and love wherever she goes.

“Rev Rose’s appointment as Bishop of Dover is testament to her relentless campaign for equality for women in the church which paved the way for others.

“The family are very proud of her as she is a natural leader and inspiration to all of us.”

Rev Karl Ramsay, from the Lichfield Diocese in Walsall, was also full of praise.

DELIGHTED: Rev Hudson-Wilkin with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

He said: “I am ecstatic at her appointment as Bishop of Dover. We have been friends and colleagues for over 40 years when we were at the Church Army College of Evangelist in London and then again in Montego Bay, Jamaica when we both returned after our training in England.

“I have been privileged to journey with her in all her progression and the things she has achieved. She is the very right person for the job.

“She will be making the voice of the church heard and she will also be big on equality across the board. Not only will she champion the right for BAME people and black women, she will also be a champion for people on the whole, man or women, black or white as she always say, we are all created in the image of God.”

He added: “This is one of the most important appointments the Church of England has made in our day.”

Sir Simon Woolley said: “Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin is a true inspiration, role model and I’m proud to say friend, too.

“Everywhere she has gone she has broken down barriers and made history. This is but the latest chapter. The brilliance of Dr Rose is that she is able to break barriers quietly, profoundly without fuss. We all rejoice in her success.”

Welcoming her appointment, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “Rose Hudson-Wilkin has, over the past nine years, been one of the most influential and effective ministers in the public square through her long service as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

“She has been described as prophet, pastor and evangelist. She has challenged the Church of England over its engagement with UK minority ethnic groups, and has spoken forcefully and effectively at many evangelistic meetings.

“I am absolutely delighted that she is willing to move from her current role to be the new Bishop of Dover. She will bring great energy and a profound commitment to collegial working, an outward looking approach to the mission of the church and a profound spiritual life. We pray for God’s blessing on her as she prepares to move.”

The depth of her contribution was also acknowledged by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons.

PICTURED: Rev Hudson-Wilkin with John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, who said she would be sorely missed by MPs

He said: “Rose is one of the warmest, kindest and most loving people I have ever met, so she will be sorely missed by Members across the House, the staff and especially by me.

“She has an unfailing sense of duty and an ability – more than she would herself ever know – to bring comfort in times of tragedy. Furthermore, her steely resolve when confronted with loss and evil, following the death of our dear colleague Jo Cox, and in the wake of the Westminster Bridge attack, was plain for all to see.

“Both in the celebration of happiness and in condolence and prayer, she has the most reassuring, fortifying presence anyone could want.

“Personally, I would like to thank Rose for her steadfast support and friendship over the past nine years. Our loss is certainly the Diocese of Canterbury’s gain. She will be the most excellent Bishop of Dover, and I will watch keenly the next stage of her spiritual journey.”

Rev Hudson-Wilkin, who was born in Jamaica, will be consecrated as Bishop of Dover in November.

She succeeds the Rt Rev Trevor Wilmott, who retired in May after 10 years as bishop.

Her appointment brings the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) bishops in the Church of England to six, although she will be the first black female to hold the post. Her new diocese is directly affected by issues raised by Brexit, given the number of refugees arriving on the Kent coast. Given the historic scale of her appointment, Hudson-Wilkin could be forgiven for being at least a little daunted.

However she told The Voice her new appointment holds no such fears.

She said: “Personally, I’ve never sat around waiting to be a bishop. I have loved every bit of work that I have done.

“I loved working in the Midlands and when I came to Hackney I loved it. Then I came to Parliament and loved it.

“I was just getting on with what I was doing.

“But I believe passionately that the church ought to have had black women and men in leadership positions, particularly in areas which are diverse.

“I’ve often said that there are churches in London dioceses, in Manchester, in Birmingham, in Bristol that, were it not for the minority ethnic congregations, the Church of England would not have a presence in those places. That’s the reality.”

Asked if her appointment was an important step to improving engagement with BAME communities, she replied: “Without a doubt, it will improve it. My appointment is an important and a significant one in the life of the church, I don’t deny that at all.

The feedback and responses have been overwhelming.” The past few months have seen Rev Hudson-Wilkin play a leading role in preparations for this year’s inaugural Windrush Day celebrations.

Earlier this month she hosted a special Voice and Jamaica National Windrush Day reception at Speaker’s House at the House of Commons.

Speaking about the impact that the Windrush Generation had had on her life and her career path to this point, Rev Hudson-Wilkin said: “I have great admiration for the Windrush Generation, because they were a people that survived.

“We have a saying in the Caribbean, ‘we lickle but we talawah’, which means we may be small but we’re strong.

“And it’s almost as if this gene from those people who survived has been passed on. So I lift up that generation, I stand on their shoulders, and they mean a lot to me.

“They endured a lot so that we might flourish and not just survive. And I want to see my generation and my children’s generation really flourishing, because our parents survived and enabled us to flourish.”

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