Roland Birchby

Born in the town “Where the good football is played” (Bolton) way back in 1945.Although a diehard Lancastrian,neither of myparents came from Lancashire. My father was from Cheshire,and a Methodist Church Steward,my mother from Lincolnshire and a Catholic.With “Mixed” marriages at that time,it was deemed mandatory that any children were brought up in the Catholic faith,and between the ages of 7 and 16,I served as an altar boy.,whilst at the same time progressing through Cubs,Junior,Senior Scouts and Rovers,in a (supposedly ) non- denominational (but in reality ) Methodist Scout Troop.Following Primary School,I attended the Catholic Salesian Grammer School ( a “foot in both camps” you might say,but then again “it’s a broad church”!)
Following “0” Levels,I moved into the world of work,initially with a manufacturing company (Turner & Newall),before moving into the field of Educational Administration,firstly at the University of Salford,prior to taking up a post with the Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in Amersham,Buckinghamshire.In 1973,I took up an appointment as Assistant Supplies Officer at the new University of Bath.It was at Bath International Club I met my wife,Christine;we bought our cottage in Freshford in 1977,and we’ve been here ever since.
However,by 1986,my career pattern took me to Oxford;appointed to the interesting and varied role of Bursar at Ruskin College,and there followed a 16 year spell of “weekending” back in Freshford.Whilst in Oxford,(possibly due to my former “roots” in Catholicism,)in addition to my role at Ruskin,I was approached by the Catholic- based Further Education Plater College to take on the role of part time non-academic External Advisor,which I willingly did; (honorary and un remunerated,in case of any doubt!)
At that time,I was also Secretary to Oxford Workers Educational Association (WEA).
;Initiallywhen we first arrived in Freshford, we attended services at the Methodist Chapel in Sharpstone,and felt very much “at home” there,and shortly after our arrival,I found myself “Following in father’s footsteps”,when I was asked to become Church Steward,a role I fulfilled until it’s eventual,much lamented closure in 1995. During those latter years,we had received much encouragement and support from our many friends at St.Peter’s,and it was therefore a relatively easy transition for us to make,becoming members there shortly afterwards.Not long elapsed before I was approached to become PCC Secretary,a role I fulfilled for seven years.
Over the 44 years I have lived in the Village,I have performed a number of other voluntary roes,including Vice -Chairman of the Parish Council,Vice- Chair of Freshford School Governors,and Secretary of the “Friends of Freshford Association”.(along with being Church Clockwinder!) .Currently,I am also one of the volunteers keeping Freshford Station garden in good order.
In terms of leisure pursuits,As a member of the ‘English Folk Dance and Song Society’I have been amassing a collection of British Folk Songs over the past fifty years;An avid “Buff” of all things “Railway”(Anorak if you like!),travelling around Europe,and beyond,in our Motorhome,and,last ,but by no means least,Membership of the Supporters Club Trust of Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
I now look forward to taking on the role of Churchwarden at St.Peter’s ,along with all the exciting challenges it will bring,as we begin to embark on the re-ordering process. I am conscious that there exists a vast pool of goodwill towards our village Church,both from members and non-members alike- whether friends drawn from our own community,or visitors and strangers from elsewhere,I look forward to warmly welcoming you to acts of witness,whether at St.Peters,or within St.Mary’s or St.John’s,the two other churches in our local Parish – we are all so very blessed to be situated in this beautiful little corner of the world.