Cross of St Piran Awards 2023: Deirdre Croker
“I’m really quite overwhelmed by all this,” says Deirdre Croker.
Deirdre was nominated for a Cross of St Piran award for her “pro-active approach to mission and outreach” and as “an essential part of the worshipping community” in the beautiful seaside town of Looe in southeast Cornwall.
Deirdre was born in Lancashire. Her father was a priest and she has been a church member all her life. She moved to Cornwall at the age of 10 when in 1953 her father became the parish priest for South Petherwin near Launceston. During the time of her father’s ministry, she sang in the choir and read lessons in church services.
Since then she has lived in St Germans, Saltash, St Dominic and now Looe. In 1996, she began 15 years of service as PA to Looe’s then incumbent minister. The next rector asked her to become churchwarden. After six years in that role, she also took over as lay chair.
In October 2021, following a suggestion from a local Methodist minister, Deirdre launched the Good Grief Café in the parish, a group for local people who have lost their loved ones.
“We started it just six months after my own husband had died,” she says. “So it was very close to my heart.”
She describes it as a “friendship support group”. They meet twice a month – including a monthly get-together for a Sunday roast!
Back in 2014, a Deanery meeting had come up with the idea of a Memory Café. One of her colleagues had offered to launch the initiative, and Deirdre had agreed to support it. Nearly ten years later, it’s still going strong.
“We have about 20 people coming along on average,” Deidre says. “It’s not just for people with memory loss. We try to make it a social event where elderly people from the local community are all welcome.”
She stresses that neither of these groups are overtly religious. “It’s not about being invasive, but about being a friend to the community,” Deirdre says.
She is also part of an initiative performing Bible stories each month in three local schools.
“The church has a big role in reaching out, in being of service to the community,” she says.
She says she finds it very spiritually rewarding to support the work of her rectors and her church. With characteristic modesty, she feels both honoured and surprised to have been chosen to receive the recognition of a Cross of St Piran award.
“I’m amazed,” she says. “I don’t see myself in the limelight at all. I see myself more as an enabler of people who have greater talents than myself.
“I feel I’m getting it for the whole parish. They all support me and enable me to do what I do.”