Local Face: Avril Baigent

  |  Published: Apr 1st 2018

Avril Baigent was born in Stockport but started moving South when she went up to University to read Ancient and Modern History. This came as a bit of a surprise to her younger self who had always imagined she would be a concert violinist! Within a week of going up, she had met Martin and they were engaged by the end of their first year.

Whilst at University, she was also involved in work within her local Parish, sang in the Chapel Choir and was involved in the College Christian Union which didn’t mind admitting a Roman Catholic. She also experienced a call, a vocation, to work for the Church. There are not many roles for lay women in the Catholic Church so she embarked on a Masters at Heythrop College. This coincided with Martin’s last year of an MEng and they both started looking for work.

Avril was invited to explore the possiblity of becoming a Pastoral Assistant in a Parish. She was invited to a Parish lunch by way of introduction. As soon as Avril saw the variety of food brought by the very diverse parishioners, she knew that this was the sort of Parish she could work in and fortunately, the Parish liked the look of her, too! Four happy years were spent mostly concentrating on Youth Work including a post on the Bishop’s  Council for Youth Ministry.

Avril then moved into a two year post looking at what was Best Practice and wrote the Y-church report (2002) which attracted responses from around the globe, including Peru, Rwanda and New Zealand. This was the background to setting up the Northampton Youth Ministry Office (NYMO) in 2003 and 10 years of youth missionary work for the Diocese of Northampton. By this time Avril was involved at a strategic level and felt she needed time to study before delving in any more deeply.

Avril and Martin also had 3 children by now and had bought a house in Wendover. Avril project managed the refurb before they moved in and their youngest child started school. At last she was able to start her PhD with a supervisor who had recently moved to Durham. This enabled Avril to look at the changes which are happening naturally, now, and exchange ideas with people inside and out of the Catholic Church. Fifty years on from the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church is re-evaluating its treasures which include meditation, the power of silence and other spiritual practices which are being lauded in the media.

Avril recently took up a post promoting lay ministry across the Diocese. This meant she had to relinquish her Trusteeship of a local music charity and Governorship of a local school but she has sung with Aylesbury Choral Society since 2001 and doesn’t want to give that up! She loves music, leads a band at St Anne’s and is exploring with them sharing in Churches Together services.

Avril at work
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