Father Paul Wheelhouse felt at home immediately when he was installed as Vicar of St John's Church of the Evangelist at Bierley, Bradford, on September 14. Over 20 years ago the Sheffield-born priest worked at Asda, which is across the road from the 250-year-old church.
'I remember those days well,' he recalls. 'I was in customer services, mostly on the till. I think I was the first male to work on the tills in that branch. I also worked as a technology and science teacher in the middle school in the neighbouring parish.'
Our 46-year-old former curate started his new life with the good wishes of his former boss, Canon Philip Gray, who said: 'It has been a privilege to have the Wheelhouse family with us. Paul, Karen and daughter Bethany have made a huge contribution to the life of our church and they are going to be missed by us all. Bethany has become a member of our serving team, Karen is in our choir and her beautiful singing voice has emerged in a very different musical and theological setting from the one she was used to.
'Paul has grown in confidence throughout his time with us and is now ready to take a parish of his own. He was new to our Anglican Catholic tradition when he came to St Margaret's and it feels very significant now that he is becoming the Vicar of St John's, which has the same tradition at its heart.
'It shows how much he has grown and changed in his time with us and has discovered new riches in what was already a very mature Christian faith.
'St John's is a much smaller church than St Margaret's and is, of course, in a very different setting close to the centre of Bradford. The challenges of ministry will be very different to those we face in Ilkley. However, Paul knows this part of Bradford well so he will understand the ministry and context he is going to and will have a huge contribution to make.
'St John's will grow to love and value him very quickly for his gentle care, strong faith and imaginative approach to ministry.
'His long experience in children and youth work will be especially vital as St John's has a large and thriving Primary School where Paul's ministry, I am sure, will be very speedily appreciated.'
When the search began for the new Vicar it was understood the Bishop wanted a visionary, joyful and confident leader who can inspire Church growth, both numerically and spiritually.
The St Margaret's congregation, who were well represented at Fr. Paul's installation at St John's, will feel their man will be a huge success in his new role.