Archbishop drops into Tonbridge to offer hope

SWEET MUSIC: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, presents Head Girl Izzy Leale and Head Boy Alex Downs with a plaque marking Hilden Oaks’ 100th anniversary at St Saviour’s Church during his visit to the town last week

Archbishop drops into Tonbridge to offer hope

by Andy Tong | 9th November 2018

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, paid a visit to Tonbridge last week and engaged with vulnerable members of society through church groups in the town.

He also joined pupils of Hilden Oaks junior school and presented them with a commemorative plaque to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

The Diocese of Rochester is running a campaign called ‘Hope’ in which they partner organisations that deliver hope in cases of debt, addiction, domestic abuse and slavery.

The Archbishop attended a Recovery Course meeting at Tonbridge Baptist Church run by the Recoverytwo charity, which tackles a range of addictions and also helps those who are the victims of addictive behaviour.

He also went to St Saviour’s Church, where the the Community Domestic Abuse Freedom Programme engages with the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

HEALING HANDS: The Archbishop supports the White Ribbon campaign

He added his handprint to a montage supporting the White Ribbon – These Hands Are Not for Hurting campaign, which is about engaging men to stand up to violence against women.

Justyn Rees-Larcombe, a recovering gambling addict, helped to set up the Tonbridge charity Recoverytwo three years ago. It now provides training and resources for groups to offer the course free of charge all over the world.

“I had a secret addiction and I lost my wife, my family, my job and my home – and £750,000. I came back to Kent, where I grew up, from where I was living in Derbyshire and found my faith again. This is very important to my recovery.

“I saw how powerful the course is – it’s not just a cliquey Christian group. Some of the people on it have never been to church before. This week it’s six years since my last debt.

He described how the Archbishop discussed forgiveness and confession. “He talked about the ability to let go of our resentments.

“One of the key steps is to work at the things we carry around with us that stop us from recovering.

“Resentment is bad for us addicts as well as for other people,” he added. “The Archbishop spoke about how important it is to confess, that sometimes it’s good to tell someone you trust.

“We had to keep it quite secret – I’ve known about it since the summer. We have 50 guests and they were absolutely delighted.”

The pupils of Hilden Oaks met the Archbishop at St Saviour’s and sang an African Christian hymn called Siyahamba, accompanied by musicians playing djembes and tuned percussion.

The Headmistress, Katy Joiner, said: “This was a really special occasion – and one that will stay with me for years to come.”

From acorns to mature oaks

Hilden Oaks’ centenary celebrations will be continuing throughout the current academic year. Past pupils and staff are invited to attend the alumni event in May 2019.

For more information visit hildenoaks.co.uk/centenary, contact Mrs Sarah Earl at alumni@hildenoaks.co.uk, write to Hilden Oaks, 38 Dry Hill Park Road, Tonbridge TN10 3BU or call 01732 353941.

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