Friends across the ocean

LINKS between a Suffolk market town and a small Caribbean island have been strengthened, with the arrival of a trainee priest.Chris Archibald, 30, is spending two weeks in Woodbridge during his three-and-a-half month visit to England to shadow clergy.

LINKS between a Suffolk market town and a small Caribbean island have been strengthened, with the arrival of a trainee priest.

Chris Archibald, 30, is spending two weeks in Woodbridge during his three-and-a-half month visit to England to shadow clergy.

Mr Archibald lives on St Kitts and he will attend a theological college in Barbados for three years, to become ordained as a deacon before working as a curate.

Mr Archibald who paid for his trip, has been observing Kevan McCormack, rector of St Mary's Church, and Aidan Platten, curate.

In 1625 Sir Thomas Warner, of Parham, left Kyson Point in Woodbridge and became the first governor of St Kitts. Recently a groundbreaking scheme was launched involving St Mary's and the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) missionary organisation.

Last year Christopher Stratton, a member of St Mary's congregation, spent eight weeks on the island and carried out a feasibility study to help the island's communities to become self sufficient and revitalise their economy. The island had suffered badly from the demise of sugar exports and the devastating effect of hurricanes. Future moneymaking schemes include low key tourism.

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Mr Archibald is a lay reader in the parish of St Paul's on St Kitts where Derek Sawyer is a missionary and Rev Sawyer came to Woodbridge last year to highlight the plight of the islanders.

Mr Archibald said: ''One of the biggest impacts on my visit here is the attention that everybody is paying to detail and planning, and I find the communication is excellent and so is the punctuality.

''On St Kitts a 10am church service could start at 10.15am or 10.30am but here everything starts on time. However, everyone here seems very busy and in a hurry!''

Mr Archibald added: ''I do think that you need to have more involvement from young people, as servers, and more church youth groups.''

Mr Archibald is staying with Jean and Tony Waller. Mr Waller, an elder at St Mary's, said: ''It is certainly true that the links between Woodbridge and St Kitts are growing and while he is here my wife and I have bought tickets to go to St Kitts in April.

''We will be looking at the USPG project from the point of view as potential tourism and also to assess the ways in which the congregation of St Mary's and maybe other people in the town can help.''

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Is your area is forging links abroad?

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