Alumni complete the toughest footrace on earth for charity…

Alumni complete the toughest footrace on earth for charity…

Alumni Lynton Dawson and Alan Critchley faced the biggest physical challenge of their lives when they took on the Marathon des Sables (MdS) in April. The MdS is a gruelling 156 mile, six-day adventure across the Sahara Desert in temperatures exceeding 50°C which takes place every year.

MDS Start
The MdS starting line.

Alan completed the marathon in an impressive 43 hours over six days, finishing in the top 400 and placing 88th for his age group. He told us more about his adventure…

“After working for almost sixteen years at the University of Chester as a Team Leader for Facilities/Security, and recently finishing my work based learning degree, I decided to return to something that involved not just a mental challenge, but also a physical challenge too.

Alan Critchley 2
Alan during the MdS.

“Whilst doing my degree, I cycled from Lands’ End to John O’Groats in seven days with three friends, and together we raised just over £35,000 for Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research). I wanted to take this a stage further, so when my degree was finished, I registered to take part in the toughest footrace on earth – the Marathon des Sables. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Leukaemia, which inspired me to raise money for Bloodwise and take on the challenge.

“If I had to describe the Sahara desert and MdS in three words, I would say: Amazing, hot and brutal.”

Lynton, who graduated from the University in 2005 with an MA in Exercise and Nutrition Science, works as a tutor with Premier Training International. He completed the marathon in just over 45 hours, finishing 580th out of 1,200 original starters. Lynton gave us an account of his journey…

“My build up and training for the Marathon des Sables had gone really well, and as I entered my final two weeks I was feeling mentally and physically prepared. On Tuesday the 28th of March I completed my penultimate scheduled heat chamber session at Loughborough University, where I ran on a treadmill in a chamber set to 40 degrees and 30% humidity for one hour and 25 minutes. Then after a rough night’s sleep, I woke up the next day with a sore throat. This got progressively worse, so on the Friday I went to the doctor who diagnosed it as a virus that would clear up. Over the weekend it continued to get worse, and by Sunday afternoon I was finding it virtually impossible to swallow anything, talk or even sleep.

LD MDS finisher
Lynton with his finisher’s medal.

“After seeing the doctor on Monday April 3rd, I was sent to A&E at Northampton General where I was diagnosed with a Quincy – an abscess on my right tonsil. I was admitted to hospital and had 500ml of fluid drained from it, then I was placed on a drip to have steroids and antibiotics administered to fight the infection and ease the pain. This was quite worrying as I was scheduled to fly out on Friday the 7th of April and sitting in my hospital bed, I just hoped and prayed that I would be allowed to go. I stayed in hospital until Wednesday when I was then given the good news that I could go home, but I was advised not to fly to Morocco for the event…

“As I could now eat, drink and sleep again, and was feeling physically and mentally okay, I made the decision to carry on and fly out with the blessing and support of my family. So I arrived at Gatwick on the 7th with my antibiotics and other medications, then flew out to Morocco with the other competitors. We landed in Ouarzazate and then had a six hour bus journey out into the Sahara desert to the Bivouac, which would be our portable campsite for the duration of the event. The competitors consisted of 1,200 people from all over the world in 166 tents, which were basically a large black heavy duty covering propped up with sticks and a rug that covered the floor. The toilet was a chair in a portable tent and some brown plastic bags to place on the chair or the desert itself. Food and drink was provided to all competitors from arrival to the beginning of the first stage on Sunday, April 9th, and then it was a case of self-sufficiency for the rest of the race.

“I spent the Saturday getting to know my tent mates for the event. After having the medical and safety equipment checks, 33 people were told they would not be allowed to take part as they didn’t meet the required standards. This was quite stressful for everybody and brought home the realisation of what we were about to face after the months of preparation and training. It was devastating for the people who would not be allowed to take part. This included one lady who had flown from New Zealand, only to be told she couldn’t take part as the company she had gone through had not passed the money on that she had paid them.

MDS camp
The MdS camp.

“So after a very cold night’s sleep where temperatures dropped below five degrees, it came to 5am Sunday morning and the entire camp was up, getting ready for the first stage. After eating a bag of dried frozen porridge that I had added my rationed water to and checking my bag, I made my way to the start line with my tent mates ready to begin running. We had to run for five days out of six covering the following distances: Day 1 – 30.3km; Day 2 – 39km; Day 3 – 31.6km; Day 4 – 86.2km, Day 5 – rest day; Day 6 – 42.2km; Day 7 – 7.7km which was a charity day.

“Water was rationed on each of the days, with each morning starting with 1.5 litres and then at the checkpoints you were given even an additional 1.5 or 3 litres depending on the length and difficulty of the section before the next checkpoint. This caused quite a few runners issues with water management, especially as the temperatures often exceeded 45 degrees, and reaching 60 degrees on the third day!

“The terrain was a combination of stony ground, mountain passes and sand dunes, which made the running nearly impossible at times and even the elite athletes had to walk some sections of the course. Over the duration of the event, over 100 people dropped out for various reasons, which included one gentleman who had a heart attack on the first day before the second checkpoint. He was airlifted out to hospital and placed in an induced coma, thankfully though he made a full recovery and was chatting to his wife in hospital before flying back home.

LD Finish
Lynton at the finish line.

“This was an immensely challenging event that really tested me and the other runners physically, mentally and emotionally. However it was a worthwhile experience that gave us all the chance to see some fantastic scenery and forge some great friendships. I would definitely recommend anybody to try it so long as you prepare yourself properly and accept that at times it will definitely push you to the limit.

“My goal was not only to complete this challenging event, but also to raise £10,000 for a fantastic charity called Families for HoPE. This is a non-profit organisation that was formed to address the needs of families and children diagnosed with holoprosencephaly (HPE) and related brain malformations. A huge thanks to all those that have donated so far, you have already helped me raise just over £5,000. I am hoping to also raise enough now to pay to fly over to Oregon, where I will be presenting my medal to a little girl called Hannah and her family as she bravely battles the condition.”

You can still donate on Lynton’s JustGiving page until the end of May by clicking here:

You can read more about Lynton and Alan’s marathon adventure in the upcoming 2017 edition of The Cestrian, the University’s alumni magazine.

The Old Boys Charity Basketball Games

The Old Boys Charity Basketball Games

The Basketball Club recently hosted the Old Boys charity basketball games. The annual event saw current and former students from the University of Chester each donate £5 to play in a series of basketball games in aid of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) Fighting Blindness.

In this week’s blog post, Niel Gillard, Men’s Basketball Club Captain, tells us a bit more about the club and their recent charity games. Niel graduated from the University of Chester in 2014 with a BA (Hons) in Law. He is now studying for his PhD at the University, while also maintaining his role as Men’s Basketball Club Captain.

“At the University, Men’s Basketball have a First team which consists of both current students and alumni. Ahead of the 2014/15 season, the Men’s Basketball Club entered their First team into the Basketball England Club National League System. The University team started at the bottom in the Men’s National Founders Cup, but has won back to back promotions into Division 4, then Division 3, and after finishing second in Division 3 North this season, we are in contention to be promoted to Division 2.

“Our basketball programme aspires to become nationally recognised and give student players, alongside alumni, the opportunity to represent the University regularly at a higher level. The current student players continue to benefit from training and playing with more experienced players, who help to raise the standard of training, improve development and become role models for student players. Alumni benefit by staying involved with the University and continuing to play an important role in developing the basketball programme.

“So far the team has proven extremely successful and has benefitted the club immensely, as can be shown by team performances in both BUCS and Basketball England competitions. This year the BUCS First team came second in BUCS Division 2A and won the BUCS Northern Conference Cup, while the first team were runners up in NBL Division 3 North, semi-finalists in the National Shield and reached the Play-Off quarter finals.

“Unfortunately, we do not have any more competitive games left this season, however we did have the Old Boys charity games on Saturday, May 6. Shortly after 12 noon, current students and alumni arrived at the Downes Sports Hall. The day started with a match between the current students and alumni. The alumni team spanned from alumni who graduated in 2004, to more recent alumni who graduated last year.


“The moment the game tipped off, competitiveness kicked in, with both teams wanting to be crowned victorious. In previous years, the games tendered to start off close before the current team’s superior fitness levels came into effect. This year started off no differently, with teams exchanging baskets early in the first quarter. Towards the end of the first quarter the current team began to build a lead. In the second quarter however the Old Boys fought back to reduce the deficit, but the current team continued to build on their lead. It was not until the third quarter that the Old Boys began slowly chipping away at the lead. They continued to fight well into the final quarter, reducing what had been a 40 point lead to the current team down to just 25 points by the end of the game!

“After the match had finished, the teams were broken down into two teams of current students and two teams of alumni. The final was played and the current students emerged victorious. With the basketball finished, everyone moved to the Students’ Union bar where old kit was sold off. Many of the Alumni had been eager to purchase the kit they once played in. We then went for food before heading into town to explore all the new bars which have opened since the Old Boys had graduated. All in all, it was a fun day for everyone involved.”

Plans for next year’s Old Boys charity games are already underway. If you would like to take part and be kept informed of events, please contact the Basketball Club’s Charity Officer, Jamaine Bernard:

An Interview with… Simon Poole (2004)

An Interview with… Simon Poole (2004)

Simon Poole is both an alumnus and current staff member here at the University of Chester. He graduated in 2004 with a PGCE in Primary Education and is now in his fourth year of studying for his Doctorate in Education, which is based around music composition and song writing.

After being a primary school teacher for 11 years, Simon has held a number of positions here at the University, linking his passion for the arts and education. Most recently, Simon has been jointly appointed by Storyhouse and the University of Chester as Senior Lead for Cultural Education and Research, to help share and develop the best of learning and research between the organisation and institution.

As Storyhouse is opening this month in the city centre, we caught up with Simon for a quick chat…

Hi Simon, thanks for chatting with us! For anyone that doesn’t know anything about Storyhouse, can you tell us what it is?

“Storyhouse is Chester’s new cultural centre – it has a theatre, cinema, restaurant/bar and library. It’s the most wonderfully dynamic building, plus the architecture is stunning! The thing I love about it more than anything else is that it has a wonderful vision of democratising culture – making it available to everybody. It’s really centred on community engagement which is a huge positive not just for Chester, but also the wider community of Cheshire. It’s an exciting place!”

What exactly does your new role as Senior Lead for Cultural Education and Research entail?

“It is my job to liaise between the University and Storyhouse, and lead in all areas of Higher Education decision making at Storyhouse. I manage the development of innovative, arts-based practices for consulting the public and community groups on the programming of learning activities, and social, cultural and educational events at Storyhouse. I am also responsible for the co-creation of credit and non-credit bearing programmes, modules, and continuous professional development from levels 4-8, for students and school teachers alike.”

Could you tell us more about your career path that led you to this current role?

“Firstly, I have been a musician all my life. My first gig was in Telford’s Warehouse when I was 13 – the drummer wasn’t allowed in because he was 11! I also spent 11 years as a primary school teacher. I suppose my career has been the coming together of those two aspects of my life. Whilst I was a primary school teacher, I was only part-time three days a week because the rest of the time, I was touring around Britain and abroad with my band, The Loose Kites. We have released lots of albums and had success in various countries – we even had a number one in Greece a few years ago, pipping Lady Gaga to the top spot which was a bit strange!

“One day I got a call to teach at West Cheshire College, to do some song writing and performance sessions. I worked there on and off for about five years. I was then approached to see if I would like to do some art sessions with the associate teachers to which I happily obliged as the arts (and not just music) are what I’m interested in. I very much believe in holistic education, I think it not only enriches a person’s life, but it also enables them to understand all sorts of subjects in different ways. When I came to the University to teach, I decided to start my Doctor of Education because it was a way of bringing back together those different aspects of my life.

“At the University of Chester, I began as the Year one leader for the BA QTS which is an undergraduate course for associate teachers. Then after two years, I was asked to become the Programme Leader for the Master’s in Creative Practice and Education, which I am currently still doing. This role ties in beautifully with Storyhouse’s vision and I am now seconded as Senior Lead for Cultural Education and Research for two and a half days a week to Storyhouse – it’s such an amazing opportunity.”

Has anyone or anything in particular been an inspiration to you?

“My grandpa – I grew up with him and he was a legend. He taught me lots of things, like how to do good and persevere, perhaps with a bit of stubbornness! My other inspirations are people in general. I’m constantly meeting people in this role. You hear of the things people are doing and why, and that is motivation in itself because the stories you hear can be quite touching.”

Thanks for answering our questions, Simon. We look forward to seeing everything Storyhouse has to offer!

“No problem! I would encourage everyone to visit Storyhouse. While it has the most tremendous vision of operating as a democratic organisation for the people of Chester and beyond, things like this don’t work unless people get involved. It’s all about engagement and getting stuck in!”

The first Storyhouse performance will be ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ on May 11. To book tickets visit:

If any alumni have an idea and would like to get involved with Storyhouse, please contact Simon at

Simon’s band, The Loose Kites, will also be playing a gig at Telford’s Warehouse, July 29.


Guest Blogger: Carla Burgess (1997)

Guest Blogger: Carla Burgess (1997)

It’s that time again where we welcome another guest blogger to our alumni blog. This week, Carla Burgess tells us more about her career since graduating in 1997. Carla studied at the University’s Parkgate campus, graduating with a BA (Hons) in English Literature with Psychology.

“I loved the Parkgate Road campus as soon as I saw it. As a seventeen-year old leaving home for the first time, I’d felt intimidated by some the larger universities I’d visited, but Chester’s green, leafy campus felt small and friendly. Plus, the chance to study a combined degree course sounded really fresh and interesting. I chose English Literature and Psychology, which seemed ideal for my intended career in writing and publishing.

“I was delighted when I was accepted by Chester. However, the one thing that threw me was discovering I had to share a room in halls of residence. I’d never considered this would be a possibility when I went off to university and was terrified by the thought of having to live and sleep in such close proximity to a complete stranger. What if we hated each other? What if she was smelly? It was a relief when I met her and found she was lovely. We were even on the same course and twenty years on we’re still close friends. We lived in Old College, which was a bit creepy, so sharing a room was actually a relief in the end.

IMG_3301Caption: Carla Burgess (front right) with friends from her university days on a girly weekend away last year.

“Everyone did a work based learning placement in the second year, and I was lucky enough to be placed at Advanstar Communications, a publisher of trade magazines based in Chester. I shadowed an assistant editor working across two magazines and loved every minute of it. Then, in the summer holidays, I was offered temporary employment working as an editorial assistant, proof reading the articles across all the magazines. It was a brilliant opportunity and cemented my desire to work in the publishing industry.

“It was also around this time that I met my future husband. He was a local boy and became the reason I stayed in Chester after I graduated. I applied for jobs at publishing houses around the North West, and was lucky enough to be offered a job back at Advanstar as assistant editor on Medical Device Technology magazine. This might have been a bit different from my initial dreams of working in fiction, but it was a really interesting job and taught me a lot about editing and writing.

“My own writing had taken a back seat over this period. Life was busy. I learned to drive, bought a house, got married and started a family. I worked part time after having my first child. Writing a book was always in the back of my mind but it was an ‘I’ll do it one day’ thing. I’d still amuse myself by making up stories in my head, but never actually wrote them down. Then, in 2004, my sister was diagnosed with cancer and died aged 32. I’d never really experienced grief before. Sure, I’d lost grandparents and that had been sad, but it made sense. There was a natural order. This was so shocking and painful and unfair, and there was no escape from the grief. I had two small children who needed me to be strong and cheerful, so I began to channel my feelings into writing a story. I hated everything I wrote at first and wouldn’t let anybody read it, but ultimately it was therapeutic. I remember going on holiday and reading a book by the pool and deciding my efforts were terrible, then going home and discarding everything I’d written. I rewrote it several times over the next few years, in different styles, from different perspectives, with different characters. I just wrote and rewrote, discarding pages and pages without a second thought. At last, when I could read it back without hating every word on the page, I joined an online writing community and put a few chapters up for people to critique. This was really worthwhile because it got me used to other people reading my work, and the feedback was helpful, especially from the women’s fiction critique group that I joined.

“The traditional route to getting work published is to find an agent who will then submit your manuscript to publishing houses. I sent out a few submissions to agents and got rejected, so I went back to the drawing board. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which is a personal challenge to write 50,000 words in a month, and did an Open University creative writing course. Then one day I was on Twitter and happened to see a post from a publisher requesting submissions of books that start with a proposal. I had an idea, so I wrote a synopsis and the first chapter and sent it in, never expecting to hear anything back. But the following week they rang to say they wanted me to write it. I couldn’t believe it at first. But based on that first chapter and synopsis, HQ Digital (a digital imprint of Harper Collins) offered me a book deal. My first book, Marry Me Tomorrow, came out in October 2016, and my second, Stuck With You, was released in early April. Both books are romantic comedies and are set in Chester. They’re not available in paperback, but at the moment it’s enough that people are enjoying my words in digital format. It’s very much a dream come true and just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams. I’m so glad I chose to study at Chester College of Higher Education (as it was known back then), otherwise my life could have gone in a very different direction.”

Carla’s books are available in digital format here:

If you would like to become a guest blogger, you can contact us on our Facebook (@UoChesterAlumni), Twitter (@ChesterAlumni) or at

How can you get involved with alumni activities?

How can you get involved with alumni activities?

Would you like to play an active role in our alumni community? There are plenty of ways for you to take part, whether it’s contributing to our alumni magazine The Cestrian, coming back to share your experiences with current students, or even volunteering at any of our upcoming events.

Here in the Alumni and Development Office, we are always delighted to welcome back alumni who would like to give back to the University in some way, as well as keep in touch with old friends.

We had a quick chat with one of our 1986 alumnas, Sharon Forsdyke (pictured right). Sharon studied the Combined Studies course, graduating in English Literature and Music. Today she has shared with us some of her favourite memories from her time at the former Chester College and told us how she has got involved with alumni activities here at the University.

Tell us about some of your favourite memories from your time at the former Chester College…

“My favourite memories are living in digs and juggling meals, housework, studies and socialising. Clubbing together with friends to cook a Sunday roast, trips to Diner’s Den or Spud-U-Like. Poring over English texts in the library, munching rounds of toast and sipping coffee whilst trying to work out keyboard harmony. Dipping into the College fountain after exams, Deva Mile and Rag Day Parade antics.”

Since graduating, you have remained an active member of the alumni community as a Year Note Secretary – could you tell us more about that?

“As Year Note Secretary I am responsible for relaying information between my year group and the institution. I also helped to organise the reunion for 1986 leavers in 2016, which over 30 alumni attended. I collate the year notes for The Cestrian with occasional updates from my peers.”

You are also a member of the UCAA – what does this involve?

“I attend the committee meetings where we discuss how to maintain our links with the University, and help organise fundraising for projects like the Alumni Window. I have also represented the committee in presenting a cheque to a student towards funding for a project.”

What other activities and events have you taken part in or helped with?

“I helped edit the book about the University quilt in 2014; made a poppy for the University Christmas tree that was displayed in the Cathedral; I was part of the chapel project team producing the Altar cloth and communion sets and I contributed a poem to the Founders Day booklet celebrating the 175th anniversary at the cathedral.

“I was privileged to be invited to write a poem about the chapel project to read out at the Alumni Donor reception in June 2016. I also usher at the fantastic graduation ceremonies.

“I frequently attend many events at the University during Diversity Week, the Literature Festival and other special events, which have helped to maintain my link with the institution.”

Do you have any advice for your fellow alumni who would like to get involved with the University?

“It is much easier now than it was 30 years ago to keep in contact with your University. Remember why you chose to study here – what you loved and also found challenging about your time here, as both have helped to shape your experience. What will you miss most? When I go back, I am still struck by its familiarity despite the expansion, and I am always filled with nostalgia. But bricks and mortar don’t mean anything without the friends you shared your time with. The alumni community is about both the people and the experiences.  “If you want to maintain links with the University, become a member of the Alumni committee and help us to continue to shape future reunions and strengthen links with current students. Become an usher for the day at graduation and watch the ceremony from another perspective (one seasoned Usher told me he gets a lump in his throat every time the students come through the West Door of the Cathedral). For me it is a wave of collective pride for a campus with wonderful pastoral care nestled in a beautiful city.

“You can also keep in touch on Facebook and Twitter – let’s keep the Chester Spirit going!”

If anything Sharon mentioned has inspired you, we would love to hear from you! Or if you would like to contribute to a feature blog post, tell us your ideas. You can get in touch with us at:

Don’t forget to follow us on social media too: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn

Top Tips for Graduates

Top Tips for Graduates

Hello and welcome back to our Alumni blog! It’s Hayley here and this week I have asked our Careers and Employability team to share some of their top tips for finding employment for our alumni who have recently graduated.

As a graduate myself, I know how difficult it can be to find work after your degree. You have left behind the reassuring comfort of your student life – no more student loan and weekday lie-ins! Instead you are suddenly faced with the prospect of things like setting a 6.30am alarm, council tax, paying a water bill (no long showers to cure your hangovers after a Wednesday night social!) and ultimately, finding a job.

While that all does sound rather scary, a proactive approach to your job hunting will go a long way in helping you secure that graduate job.

From my own experience, I have learnt how important it is to tailor your CV and application to the job and organisation – one size does not fit all! If you spend most of your time glued to social media on your phone too, why not make the most of it in your job hunting? Follow employers on Twitter and join relevant LinkedIn groups. Search to see if any of your tutors (including WBL and Careers and Employability staff) are on LinkedIn and ask if they can be a contact – you never know who they might be able to introduce you to!

Our wonderful Careers and Employability team are also here to help you at every stage of planning your career, and their services are available to graduates (free of charge) for up to three years after graduating.

Here are some of their top tips for graduates…

  • If you are unsure of your options, you can book a guidance interview with one of our career consultants. This can be by telephone or Skype, as well as face-to-face.
  • We also offer mock interviews to help you feel more confident when you have an important interview coming up.
  • Have you been asked to complete some online tests? Practising them will help to improve your performance – use Graduates First.
  • Do you have a LinkedIn profile with a professional-looking photograph? Employers are using LinkedIn as a recruitment platform and you can use it to search for jobs.
  • If you are yet to find employment, Careers and Employability also offers the unique and innovative free Graduate Head Start (GHS) programme, developed to provide you with the employment skills and professional development to give you a head start towards your chosen career path.
  • CareerHub is your first port of call to find out about the range of services we offer so make sure you are signing in regularly. This includes access to current vacancies from local and national organisations for part-time and full-time opportunities, details of internships and the chance to submit your CV, cover letter or application form for checking via the “Ask a Question” function. There is also information about our Venture programme if you are thinking about self-employment and access to Work Shadowing opportunities.



A Day in the Life of a Parish Priest… with Reverend Dot Gosling (2004)

A Day in the Life of a Parish Priest… with Reverend Dot Gosling (2004)

Dot Gosling is a former University chaplain who also graduated from the University with a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education in 2004. Dot is now parish priest for three church communities near Prestatyn and also the mission area leader. She looks after ten parishes in total, has three colleagues to care for, and facilitates missions alongside her colleagues.

In today’s blog post, Dot tells us what a day in the life of a parish priest is like…

“So what does a day look like for me?”

“This morning started as usual, with breakfast and prayer. Taking a look at my diary, I could see I had two appointments, then the rest of my day was going to be admin type things and trying to get some notes down for the sermon on Sunday. However, that is not quite what my day ended up looking like…

10.00am: I had my first visitor, a mum whose little boy is being baptised in two weeks. We had a good conversation and she left, I went back to my computer and was about to start doing some work when the phone rang!

10.20am: It was one of my church wardens talking about an issue we have with lighting in one of the church buildings… that led on to a conversation about the closed church in another of the villages… that led onto another conversation about stoles!

10.35am: When that conversation finished, I had to phone the personal assistant to our bishop, who gave me two more names to call about the closed church.

10.40am: Phoned the first of the two names and we may be slightly nearer to knowing what the next steps are to making the church redundant in order to dispose of some the items in there.

10.50am: Phone call finished, I started to read emails and the doorbell went. It was the church warden who had been on the phone earlier. She had been to the closed church and brought round some vestments for me to look at, including stoles. We had a conversation about my phone calls and then she left.

11.10am: Finally started to deal with emails and various other admin tasks (including putting some washing in the machine!).

12.20pm: Lunchtime!

12.45pm: I began to gather the things I needed for a meeting I was going to in order to plan for an away day for the newly formed mission area. Luckily I managed to get my washing out as well, then I needed to set off for the meeting.

The meeting was a good one, but I didn’t leave there until 4.35pm and my next appointment was at 5.30pm – 50 minutes away!

5.25pm: I arrived at Gyrn castle just in time. I was greeted by the owner and immediately asked if I was ok with heights and taken up to the top of the castle outside! We then went down the scaffolding and went inside to a lovely warm kitchen where we conversed for 90 minutes – a wide ranging conversation, some of which will be great if it happens!

7.00pm: Arrived home and made dinner before sitting down to finish writing this. Although I should be able to relax, as I have done more than a full day, I now have to put together a short Morning Prayer order of service for tomorrow. My three colleagues will be here at 9.15am to pray and talk together for an hour or so.

No day is the same in my week! There are a few constants, such as the time we meet for prayer on Friday mornings, or a Wednesday morning Eucharist. Some weeks I have school collective worship, and obviously Sunday services, but the rest is different every week. That’s what I like so much about the job, the variety and different conversations I have mean I don’t ever have time to be bored. I also know I have been called here by God, for now, but it won’t be forever… watch this space!”

Dot made contact with our Alumni team via our Facebook page. If you would like to become a guest blogger, you can contact us on our Facebook page (@UoChesterAlumni) or at