Christian just loves his warm welcome

Born and brought up in north Wales, Christian set his heart on becoming a priest at the age of just 13. At 14, he decided his true vocation lay in serving as a chaplain with the Royal Marines.

Born and brought up in north Wales, Christian set his heart on becoming a priest at the age of just 13. At 14, he decided his true vocation lay in serving as a chaplain with the Royal Marines.

After studying history at the University of Wales, he went on to gain a master's degree in labour history before heading off to Cambridge University, where he spent 3 years training as a priest at Westcott House Theology College.

During the 1990s, Christian combined studying with playing basketball at a semi-professional level, captaining his university club, playing in the UK for the combined Welsh universities, and in the US for his country.

He was ordained as a deacon in the Church of Wales in 1997, and, after being ordained as a priest the following year, he served his curacy in the Welsh seaside resort of Rhyl, where he sat on a number of committees, including working with the Diocesan Youth Council and with the town's homeless community.

In 2000, Christian fulfilled his boyhood dream when he took the Queen's commission as a Royal Navy chaplain, completing his officer and commando training before joining a commando unit at Plymouth.

He returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Royal Marines Commandos in 2002, just days before his marriage to Nia, a nurse whom he met at Rhyl.

Most Read

In 2003, Christian's unit was the first to arrive in Kuwait at the start of the invasion marking the beginning of the Iraq war.

Within minutes, 9 of his comrades became the war's first UK fatalities and, during his 6 months in Iraq, Christian lost a total of 14 men, including his Plymouth next-door-neighbour.

As well liasing with UK-based chaplains taking care of the men's families, Christian held services in a makeshift church, where he and chaplains from other units installed a railway sleeper memorial on which they lined up candles, one for each of the dead marines.

The sleeper was eventually flown back to the UK, where it was installed in a memorial garden built at Plymouth by Christian and his fellow Royal Marines chaplains.

A spell with his unit at Plymouth was followed by 5 months' cold weather training in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures reached as low as minus 50.

After four-and-a-half years of front line duty, Christian spent 18 months as chaplain of HMS Drake at Devonport dockyard, Plymouth before being given a medical discharge for injuries he sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Keen to again live near the sea, and to be part of community life, Christian and Nia decided to move from Cambridge, where Christian was chaplain to 9,000 staff, associate vicar of Great St Mary's and multi-faith chaplain to the whole university.

They arrived in Sheringham with their two-year-old daughter Molly and springer spaniel Boots when Christian, 38, was made vicar of Sheringham in April of this year, and the family has been delighted with the warm welcome they have received. 'I feel as if we have been called home once again,' Christian said.

The lowdown:

What is the best thing about your job?

Working with people.

And the worst?

The long hours I spend away from my family.

What is your favourite Norfolk Building?

That has to be St Peter's Church!

Have you ever done anything outrageous?

Too many things!

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting married and having our daughter Molly.

And your proudest moment?

It's becoming a recurring theme, but that has to be getting married and having Molly - to me, family is all-important and it is a privilege to have it and all its joys.

Whom do you most admire?

I think, generally speaking, people who, even amidst tragedy, difficulties and suffering, are able to rebuild their lives. Being a priest, it is an honour to stand alongside people as they go through that process.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

I've been very lucky to have been able to pursue and fulfil so many things, from playing basketball at a high level, to serving with the Royal Marines and, most importantly, being able to serve the church as a priest.

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

Other than the Bible, I enjoy reading autobiographies. My favourite film is White Men Can't Jump and, on TV, I loved the BBC drama serial Boys from the Black Stuff.

How would you like to be remembered?

Hopefully as someone who loved his family and always sought to do his best to support others. I think that one of the most important things in any society is friendship and honesty within friendship - if you have that you can get through anything.