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Norfolk man’s journey from wing-three quarter to club chaplain

PUBLISHED: 12:54 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 03 April 2018

Holt rugby club chaplain Nick Bell. Picture: Roger Percival

Holt rugby club chaplain Nick Bell. Picture: Roger Percival

Archant

Holt rugby club’s long-standing chaplain Nick Bell is set to enjoy a special trip to Twickenham, as part of a volunteer recognition programme.

The club has nominated him under the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme.

It means Mr Bell could have the chance to watch Eddie Jones’ England team train at their training facility at Pennyhill Park or attend a recognition lunch hosted by the RFU President at Twickenham.

Fittingly, he will take as his guest his son Ben who is a Church of England curate in East London.

Holt RFC chairman Ben Jones said: “Nick is so much more than a figurehead, he is always willing to volunteer and has become a much valued member of the club.”

Mr Bell retired to Sheringham with his wife Hilary after 20 years as the vicar of Luton Parish Church.

He said: “It was a demanding, multi-ethnic city parish with lots of enthusiasm but many challenges.”

He was well equipped for such a role having spent his early days as a minister working for the legendary David Sheppard, who became Bishop of Liverpool – and was a former England opening batsman.

Mr Bell was always a Rugby enthusiast, participating at school, university and at theological college.

He always played on the wing “out of the way and out of trouble”.

The high point of a modest but always committed playing career was his selection for Saracens schoolboys.

The involvement with Saracens runs deep as his daughter Hannah became the community manager for the club.

It was through Saracens that he met Penny Chapman, the former coach of the Holt First XV, and she encouraged him to come to the club.

At her suggestion, when he came to Norfolk, he booked in for a pre-match lunch.

The then Holt chairman, Richard Seaman, met him at the bar, put him on top table, and asked him to say grace.

Not long afterwards he was invited to become club chaplain.

He is now involved in the efforts to make Holt a dementia-friendly club and a formal audit of the signage at the clubhouse has just been completed.

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