From today, The Grapevine will be running a series of Q&As with prominent figures across the parish. 

Some of them will be familiar faces, others have recently joined the community. Either way, we hope you’ll learn something about them that you didn’t know before.

To kick off the series, we had a chat with Father Martyn Hawkes, our new interim priest-in-charge.

What would you like to achieve as the interim priest-in-charge?


Interim ministry happens now in the Church of England for a whole variety of reasons. In the case of Wanstead it comes at the confluence of a huge upheaval due to Covid-19, which has been significant for the whole Church of England, and a period of substantial change in the Parish, including of course Father Jack’s departure.

I would hope to enable the Parish of Wanstead to use this transition moment to reflect on its mission and identity, after a challenging time. I hope that the Parish will emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and joy not only in serving the people of Wanstead, but also being a resource and encouragement in the wider context of the Mission and Ministry Partnership and Deanery. If at the end of this interim the Parish is clear in what she wants from her next Rector and confident of the direction she’s already moving in, then I’ll be happy.

Why did you decide to enter the ministry?

I grew up in a church-going family and never really stopped going! In my late teens and early twenties I was convinced that my calling was to serve outside the structures of church in international development, or youth and community work. But, in the end, nothing quite fell into place until someone asked me in my mid-20s whether I’d ever considered being ordained. I hadn’t, so I did consider it and the rest is history.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a village called Wargrave, on the Thames in Berkshire. If it sounds tame and idyllic, it could be, but we moved when I was 2 years old to live in a disused monastery with upwards of 80 people (long story for another time). We ended up staying in the village when that community experience came to an end and I spent my growing up years there.

Why did you first come to Wanstead?

I moved to Wanstead (Aldersbrook) in 2011 from Finsbury Park, where I had been working as an associate vicar in two parishes there. Prior to that I was a curate in the Isle of Dogs, which I can see (well, Canary Wharf at least) from my study window. So, in ministry terms I’ve not travelled very far.

Do you have any interesting facts about yourself?

Hmm… I’m afraid I’m responsible for putting the NHS to unnecessary stress once, by following up a Centenary challenge for St Gabriel’s anniversary and setting out to run 100 miles, passing the cathedrals of St Albans and Chelmsford on a circular route home. I finished well enough but 5 days later went to A&E having damaged my kidneys, and spent 4 days being looked after at Whipps Cross on a drip.

Why should someone want to get in contact with you?

Don’t come to me for long-distance running advice. But, once I’m licensed to work in the Parish I am available as any regular Vicar or Rector would be. My particular work is focused around the Parish’s mission and identity reflecting on where she has come from and where she is going, and be aware that as I’m still the Vicar of St Gabriel’s I’m only part-time in Wanstead. But, that doesn’t mean I’m out of reach for anyone with any concern related to church life. I’m here and available (Friday is my day off so save that for emergencies).