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Bishop of Dover the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott to retire

By Sam Lennon

The Bishop of Dover has announced he is to retire after nine years in the role.

The Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, who is also Bishop in Canterbury and lives in the city, will leave the role next May.

Bishop Trevor, 68, hit the headlines this summer for his outspoken comments on Universal Credit, urging the Government to "fix" its new benefit system.

The Bishop of Dover photographed last October. Picture: Tony Flashman
The Bishop of Dover photographed last October. Picture: Tony Flashman

He is responsible for the whole Canterbury Diocese, which also includes, wholly or partly, the districts of Maidstone, Swale, Thanet, Folkestone and Hythe and Ashford.

Speaking of his and his wife Margaret’s time in the diocese, he said: “Everywhere we go, we’re received with extraordinary generosity, hospitality and kindness.

"So when I do come to say goodbye to the diocese, it will be with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving - and that’s due to the people who are in this diocese.

“In the time I’ve been in the diocese, what gives me real joy and energy is the myriad ways – thousands and thousands of ways – that I’ve been privileged to share in the lives of others who have discovered that God loves them."

Julian Hills, diocesan secretary, said: “Bishop Trevor’s forthcoming retirement gives me the opportunity to look back with a deep sense of gratitude for the past nine years and the focus in his leadership on spiritual and numerical growth, reimagining ministry and building community partnerships,”

"The three archdeacons and I are committed to building on his legacy and working with the next Bishop of Dover to ensure that our strategy continues to come to fruition.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby, said: “Bishop Trevor has worked hard to foster a culture of generous hospitality to our partners from around the world.

"I am deeply grateful to him for his faithfulness to the people of this Diocese and his faithfulness to Jesus Christ as he has sought to offer inspiration and pragmatic leadership.

"May he and Margaret be assured of our prayers as they move into this next stage of their lives.”

The diocese will be able to say goodbye to Bishop Trevor at Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral and a reception afterwards on May 11.

He will then conclude his public ministry by celebrating Holy Communion and preaching in the Cathedral the next day.

Further details will be made available early next year.

Trevor Willmott retires next spring. Picture: Tony Flashman
Trevor Willmott retires next spring. Picture: Tony Flashman

Bishop Trevor was ordained deacon at St Mary’s Church in Luton in 1974.

He served his curacy in the Diocese of St Albans, and then became assistant chaplain of Oslo with Trondheim before moving to become the chaplain of Naples with Capri, Bari and Sorrento in Italy from 1979 to 1983.

He served as Officiating Chaplain to the British and American forces in southern Europe from 1979 to 1983.

In 1983, he returned to the UK as Rector of Ecton in Northamptonshire, and warden of the Ecton House retreat centre.

Trevor Willmott became Diocesan Director of Ordinands and of Post-Ordination Training in 1986. Alongside that role, in 1989 he moved to become a Residentiary Canon of Peterborough Cathedral, a position he held until he became the Archdeacon of Durham in 1997.

He was consecrated Bishop of Basingstoke in 2002, and became Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury in February 2010.

He took on additional responsibilities for the Channel Islands in 2014.

In August, Bishop Trevor made outspoken comments about Universal Credit.

This was amid reports of a surge in demand at food bands in areas where the controversial benefits system had been introduced.

He signed an End Hunger UK petiton calling on the government to amend the system to prevent more people from suffering from lack of food.

He said: “More and more people are finding that they have had to turn to food banks following the introduction of Universal Credit.

"They’re reporting unintended delays, lack of digital support, poor administration, and a lack of flexibility in the system.

"All of these problems can and must be resolved."

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