The Wychwood interview: Geoffrey Clement

Give us a brief outline of what you were doing before coming to the Wychwoods. Before coming to the Wychwoods, I was serving as a vicar in Suffolk where I had responsibility for 5 parish churches.I had been working as a vicar in Suffolk since 2001 which was when I returned to the UK from working abroad.

What attracted you to the Wychwood benefice of churches? To be honest, it was the job description which caught my eye. When I read about what the church was doing here and what they wanted from a “new vicar”, I thought: that sounds like the sort of place and people I would like to work with. I was not disappointed, everyone is so very friendly here, it’s like one large family.

Apart from the repair situation at Shipton church, what has been your major challenge in our benefice? Currently the challenge is to keep the church family functioning under the current situation. The way we ‘do’ church has changed and I think we are all trying to work out how to work best, not just in the church but in every other sphere of life. I’ve had to learn new skills and how to make the most of social media to keep in touch with people.

Tell us about one community event that has given you a lot of pleasure. I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be the Christmas Tree Festival we had in December 2019. It was fantastic to see such a large number of people in the church from so many different backgrounds.

We know you love dogs, so which are your favourite dog walks? We mostly tend to walk along the footpaths from Dog Kennel Lane over to Milton. Over the summer we walked across to see the sunflowers and for a while that was our favourite walk.

As well as dog walks, how do you choose to spend your spare time? I enjoy reading and when the weather is fine going out on my Moto Guzzi (motorbike).

If you had a whole day free and good weather, where would you go from here and why? Oxford; there is plenty in Oxford that I haven’t visited or investigated yet.

And if you had a week free to go on holiday in Britain, where would you go and why? The coast – any coast really as I enjoy being by the sea.

What two non-food items would you take with you if you were shipwrecked on a desert island? Penknife and a magnifying glass, armed with these you can do most essential things.

And if you had a magic wand and could provide just one relatively inexpensive amenity for our community, what would it be? A telephone kiosk-sized karaoke booth; I’d put it in the carpark at the surgery. There’s nothing quite as good as singing to improve mental health and a small booth would mean you can let rip to your favourite tunes without worrying if anyone can hear how bad you might be!

Which famous individual alive today would you invite to your dream dinner party? Prof. Chris Lintott and if there was a spare space Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. They’re probably not that famous but I bet they could keep the dinner party entertained talking up astronomy.

If you could choose one piece of music to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why? The old Channel 4 ident tune; it is short – just four notes. I would imagine that if it played every time I entered a room for the rest of my life it would soon become irritating whatever music it was. So I’ll keep it as short as possible!

April-May 2021