Clergy Corner

A Life in the Day of…


My name is Mark Ward, I have lived in Sandleheath, just outside Fordingbridge for 25 years with my wife Margaret. Our three married children live in Norwich, Nottingham and Leeds and between them they have so far produced 8 children. Four days a week I work for The Trussell Trust which is the charity which sits behind well over 400 food banks in the UK. I have three half allotments and I really enjoy foreign language “noir” on Saturday evenings. I’ve been a Lay Minister in Avon Valley Churches since 2005.

Monday to Thursday I’m at my desk, or nowadays the dining table by 7.15 in front of the computer where I will spend much of the next 9½ hours dealing with Safeguarding, Data Protection, charity governance and other juicy issues! So on Friday and Saturday I like a lie in with Radio 3 and a book, usually on my Kindle. Around 9 I will wander downstairs and have some gluten free toast with Marmite or maybe some jam I have made (gooseberry at the moment) or even a poached egg. I don’t do breakfast on working days but if I can gently slide into breakfast, well that’s fine.

Depending on the weather it’s sermon or allotment. If it’s Saturday I’m now on Radio 4 until 11 when it’s back to Radio 3. I look forward to writing my sermons. I always try to tie them to the gospel reading and sometimes I start weeks ahead. This is a double-edged sword because it leaves me time to change it on numerous occasions! If I’m stuck I read other sermons on the internet and often a few words someone else hs said sets me off. I really like writing now I don’t have to use a pen! I wonder sometimes if I ask you too many questions and make too may challenges but Jesus challenged everyone and I’d hope at least sometimes people go home and think about the subject matter, and I have absolutely no problem if people disagree with me. This is also my bible study week-by-week. At 12.15 I switch to Scala for an hour of Simon Mayo and Nigel Bardon, his cookery pal.

Lunchtime is cheese and biscuits, I love cheese, the smellier the better! In the summer accompanied by home grown lettuce, radishes, cucumber and tomatoes. At lunch I’m back to Radio 3.

If I was at the allotment earlier (with my battery radio) I’m now on the sermon. As I said earlier in the week my job is looking after some quite technical stuff for Trussell Trust food banks. I’m continually amazed at some of the questions but my job is to allow them to do what they do best – feed people, and not have to worry about all the other stuff. Sometimes people think I know huge amounts but in reality I often only know where to look or who to call! All of the food banks in our network are Christian led so my job means I can live out my faith to serve others, which is a real bonus.

We share cooking (but not together) and I do Saturday evening. I treated myself to a really lovely barbecue a few years ago and despite lots of use she’s still in showroom condition! I love looking for recipies but I often have to substitute ingredients. I treat Nigel Slater cookery books as novels, because they tell such stories. I met him a couple of years ago with Nigella when I picked up an Observer award the Trussell Trust had won – together with Jay Rayner who I listen to hosting “The Kitchen Cabinet” on Saturday morning on Radio 4. Oh, as to radio – I’m now on Radio 6 Music with the Craig Charles Funk & Soul show, it’s good music to cook to. Cooking supper, whether outside or in the kitchen involves a bottle of gluten free beer. In the summer every meal includes courgettes! Saturday is also the evening for a nice bottle of red, even if it’s chicken or fish! I’m also a fan of poultry and game, I’ve never had any turtle doves but I’m partial to a pigeon or pheasant. Whether I could cope with 22 over 11 days I’m not sure!

At 9pm we settle down to whatever is on BBC 4, something with a serious plot from Skandinavia, or France or the much more light-hearted Sicilian Inspector Montalbano. Then it’s off to bed where I might read for 20 minutes. I try to read something faith related in the week and then try for at least a few minutes to give thanks for the day but I often either fall asleep or my mind wanders off. Bishop Jonathan, now Dean of York Minster, and a good friend once told me that he really struggled to pray and would find himself suddenly thinking about what he had to get from Tesco the next day, so knowing he struggles makes me feel a bit better and I now use the “Jesus prayer” which he taught me, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”

Best advice I was given: It’s ok not to know exactly which book comes where in the bible – that’s why there’s an idex page!

Advice I’d give: I don’t do advice!

What I wish I’d known: Sometimes others have to accept who you are, you don’t always have to bend to their agenda.

A video of Mark’s ‘Life in the Day of…’ can be seen here: