Our Team 

Father James Gilder

Priest in Charge

A Norfolk boy originally, Fr James read Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Before ordination, he practised as a solicitor and a teacher, in Essex and east London. He trained for the priesthood at Westcott House and spent his curacy at St Edmund’s, Chingford. James, who has a long association with Kenya, is also the Diocesan Environmental Officer. He sits on the Diocesan Advisory Committee and is a local Justice of the Peace. In his spare time, James enjoys making music, D.I.Y., and sailing (badly).

The Revd Richard Wyber

Associate Priest

For Richard, the call to ordained ministry came towards the end of a varied career in accountancy and he joined our ministry team on ordination in 2006. With an interest in small groups as a supplement to formal worship, he is the driving force behind a number of adult nurture groups in our parish. In addition to his church duties, Richard also serves on the board of a substantial benevolent association.

The Revd Olive Thursby


Olive was ordained Deacon in September 2020 but has been actively involved in the parish for a number of years. She became a Licensed Reader in 2009 after theological training at St Mellitus College, becoming Licensed Lay Minister in 2015. With a spiritual focus on the mission of the church, her other interests include playing the organ, travel and attending arts events.

Jan Andrews

Weddings, Baptisms and Thanksgivings Coordinator

As a lifelong worshipper in Wanstead Parish, Jan has worked as a general nurse, managed a large city dental practice and has been employed in a local school. She also ran the 1st Wanstead Guide unit, attached to Christ Church for over 25 years. She is now the first point of contact for our Baptism, Thanksgiving and Wedding families.

Lorraine Bucknall

Parish Administrator and DBS Administrator

Lorraine left her career in banking to bring up her children, starting to attend Christ Church when her first son was a few months old. She has been involved in numerous aspects of the church ever since, from running Nursery Church to arranging flowers for weddings. Lorraine helped to set up and run the parish office.

Lauren Johnson

Hall Bookings Manager

Lauren has been an active member of the Christ Church congregation for over twenty years. For the past twelve years she has worked at Wanstead Church School as a classroom assistant.  As our Hall Bookings Manager she is responsible for arranging and overseeing all group and individual bookings as well as maintaining the smooth running of the halls.

Siân Paterson

Communications Manager

Siân has been involved in Parish life for 26 years, having lived in Wanstead since birth. She sings in the Choir, rings the bells at Christ Church, and is a licensed Lay Leader. You may also find her underground giving tours of the Crypt underneath St Mary’s! Siân runs Parish communications and social media channels.

James Paterson

Lay Vice Chair/Treasurer

James has lived in Wanstead for 28 years. One of the lay leaders licensed to lead services at St Mary’s, James has also served as Chair of the Friends and Parish Treasurer. He co-manages the “Tin in a Bin” initiative supporting Redbridge Foodbank and is a member of the Corner House Project, which supports a number of projects supporting local families and homeless/rough sleepers.

Barbara Hepworth


With four daughters ranging from teens to mid twenties, Barbara has volunteered with many of the children and young people’s groups in the parish. In her spare time, outside her role as a Director of Clinical Development at GlaxoSmithKline, Barbara is vice chair of the Miscarriage Association charity.

Ralph Hall


An active member of the parish for over a quarter of a century, Ralph has served on several parish committees. Having previously been churchwarden at Christ Church, Ralph began attending St Mary’s on completing his term.

Ralph’s professional life was as a photographer, working mainly with advertising agencies.

Natalie Denchfield

Head, Wanstead Church School

Natalie’s career began as a class teacher at a primary school in Essex. She went on to be appointed Assistant Head and then Acting Head of a school with serious weaknesses before becoming the Deputy Headteacher of an outstanding school in Havering. Prior to coming to Wanstead Natalie was the Headteacher of a primary school in Essex, which Ofsted rated “Good” under her leadership.

Deborah Dickinson

Syrian Refugee Project Coordinator

Deborah has retired from a varied career in education, teaching at all levels from pre-school to 16+ and adults. Her experience also includes the provision of quality assurance for special educational and disability needs.

Pen Garlick

Pastoral Care Coordinator

Pen has lived in Wanstead for 36 years and her three daughters all attended Wanstead Church School. Since retiring from her senior management post at the NHS, she has been more involved in local activities including six years as Church Warden. Pen still sings in the parish choir, while outside the parish she volunteers as a welcomer at the Westfield Rest and Faith Space.

Martin Elliott

Assistant Organist

Martin worked for 33 years in an insurance company in the City until he retired in 2014. Married to Sandra, they have two children. He is a keen musician and plays the organ at both St Mary’s and Christ Church, where he sings in the choir. You may notice a four legged companion by his side; this will be the latest Guide Dog puppy that he is training.

Margaret Adams

Vulnerable Adults Lead and Seniors’ Champion

A longstanding member of our community, Margaret has a background in social work and has sat on both the Mental Health Tribunal and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunals. She currently chairs the World Church Committee and acts as the Vulnerable Adults Lead on our Safeguarding Committee.

Joe Waggott

Parish Organist

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Joe performs regularly as a continuo player, recently with ensembles such as Ex Cathedra, the London Handel Orchestra, English Touring Opera, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. He is also an assistant conductor of the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain.

Patience Rusinga

Diversity and Inclusion Advocate

Zimbabwe-born Patience moved to the UK in 2002 to train as a Paediatric Nurse, and is now a Senior Sister with the London Neonatal Transport Team. Patience lives in Wanstead with her partner and their two children, serves on the social committee and attends Little Angels toddler group with her younger child.

Jill Steggle

Parish Giving Coordinator

Jill has worked in accounting and finance in New York and London and now resides and works in Wanstead with her husband and their two children. Jill and her family enjoy travelling, especially back to the US, where she grew up, to visit family and friends.

Peter Schaefer

Chair of the Friends

Originally from Sydney Australia, Peter enjoyed an 18 year career in Finance (6 years of which were in Germany) before stepping off the treadmill to begin a new phase in life; family first. Having joined our Parish over a decade ago, life highlights include marrying in Christ Church in 2010, followed by the baptisms of his two children in 2013 & 2017. Peter was Parish Secretary from 2018-2021 and is now the Chair of the Friends, who run events on behalf of the Parish for the benefit of the Parish and Community alike.

Jem Green

Volunteer Coordinator

A member of Wanstead Parish for over thirty years, having moved down from Cambridge to pursue a career in the City, Jem has been an active participant in the choir, a past (and sometimes current) bell ringer and one of the original members of the Friends Committee. He most regularly attends services at St Mary’s, where he performs various roles including reading the lesson, intercessions, sidesman, and cleaning.

Yvy Carter

Fair Trade Representative

Yvy is a sides-person at baptisms and our 8am service at Christ Church, and one of the Lay Worship Leaders.  She was involved with establishing our presence at Wanstead Farmers Market and also runs the Fairtrade stall with other volunteers.

Gary Vickers

Safeguarding Lead

Jenny Griffiths

Deputy Churchwarden/ Deanery Synod/MMU Representative/

Jenny is on both the intercessors and readers rotas at Christ Church, but usually sings in the choir. She works at University College London advising on the design of new teaching in Medicine and Engineering. A keen cyclist, Jenny volunteers as a cycle ride leader for beginner cyclists in Waltham Forest. She lives with her husband and stepson in Walthamstow.