Who's Who: Rev Hugh Thomas
PUBLISHED: 10:11 19 December 2018
With Christmas a time of new beginnings, it's apt that it's Rev Hugh Thomas' first festive season at St Cuthbert's Church in West Hampstead.
The vicar has joined the Anglican church from St Paul’s in Tottenham. While he was officiating there, a stone’s throw from the Spurs ground, he conducted a funeral for a teenager killed in gang violence in the area.
It’s an event that sticks clearly in his mind. The 61-year-old said: “A big part of the job is supporting the community. I had three murders in my parish in nine months.
“One of the things you can never say is ‘I understand’, because you can’t. Sometimes in ministry you shy away from the word evil, but to have a young man of 22 murdered in cold blood as he parks his car metres away from his home is exactly that.”
Hugh, originally from Llanelli in south west Wales, only became seriously involved in the church in his 40s, after working as a lawyer in the City. One of his first postings after being ordained was in at a group of churches within the Square Mile.
“You end up changing the service around,” he said. “You have the Sunday service on a Wednesday and things like that. It was an interesting job, with my background in the City.”
Hugh is now hoping to revitalise St Cuthbert’s musical offering, and breathe new life into its lapsed choir. He and his wife have moved into a flat in the parish, as the traditional vicarage is occupied by the Archdeacon of Hampstead. “When I see him, I remind him that he’s one of my parishioners!”
He’s already got his work cut out for him. “We’ve had the awful fire on the Sidings Estate,” he said, but added: “I’m looking forward to getting to know all the people. I’ve been meeting lots of people since I started.”