Cross of St Piran Awards 2023: Jane LePage
The citation for Jane LePage’s award of the Cross of St Piran could hardly be more effusive.
“Jane,” it says, “embodies the servant heart of Christ, continuously putting the needs of others before her own.”
Her own estimation of her contribution is rather more modest.
Jane was born in Jersey and brought up on Guernsey. As a student, she moved to southwest London, where she specialized in chemistry at Whitelands College, a teacher training institution established by the Church of England in 1841.
Returning to Guernsey she worked as a science teacher until 2011, when she and her family relocated to Cornwall.
Today, she continues to work in education, as a teaching assistant and science technician at Brannel School, in St Stephen near St Austell. She is also a very active member of the church and parish community in Stithians.
She’s been involved in church activities since she started attending Sunday School as a child. At the age of 11, she was offered the choice of joining the choir or helping to teach at the Sunday School.
“I loved the hymns, but I couldn’t sing, and I didn’t really want to do either,” she says. Instead, she joined her local church youth club, which she stayed with until going to university. When she returned from her studies, she started to teach Sunday School in Guernsey. She taught there for 25 years, until she came to Cornwall.
She also served for 28 years with St John Ambulance. Now, as a licensed lay minister, she takes the service at St Stythians Church at least once a month, and runs a regular coffee morning for elderly people in her parish.
“It’s the only time some of them get out and see people,” she says. “We do that every week of the year, except for on Good Friday. We do it at Christmas too – otherwise some of our people might not get to see anyone at Christmas.”
She remains typically modest about her efforts. “It’s not a problem,” she says. “We book the church hall, and have that for two hours each week. We just take loads of cakes, and have lots and lots of coffee and tea.”
She also leads her village’s cub scouts group, and serves as Creation Care Champion at her church in Stithians. Indeed, she’s successfully managed to combine aspects of these two roles, roles which represent two of the great passions in her life: working with young people and the natural world.
“With the cubs, we do environmental things a lot,” she explains. She’s also involved with a group which runs churchyard nature surveys. “We take the cubs along to do that,” she says. “We’ve just won our bronze Eco Award for our church.”
She’s been involved in such activities for much of her life – from wild bird surveys to supporting local nature reserves. “Being a science teacher and a cub leader, I’ve been able to get the kids involved as well,” she says.
She has led efforts to plant apple trees in the St Stythians churchyard, and has supported a study of jackdaws in the churchyard run by the University of Exeter. This work is underpinned by her passion for the environment. That passion is very closely related to her faith.
“My faith means everything to me,” she says. “I see Jesus and God in creation a lot. I love going for walks. That’s where most of the time I feel at peace with God and listening to God – when I’m out in the countryside surrounded by nature.
“I think working for the environment and working with children is definitely inspired by my faith. Definitely. Because I always see God in nature, and always in my mind is Jesus’s command to let the children come to him and make him known to them.”
Jane says that she’s very “thankful and grateful” to have been chosen to receive the award of a Cross of St Piran but is also “quite embarrassed” by the honour.
“I’m not doing anything more than anyone else is doing,” she insists. “I’m just me.”
The Cross of St Piran awards ceremonies will take place at special services at 3.30pm and at 6.30pm on Sunday 5th March at St Piran’s Church, Perranzabuloe.