Sunday saw St Piran’s Church in Perranzabuloe full for the service to award 2024’s Cross of St Piran Awards.

The Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans, presented 15 of the crosses to the very deserving recipients who came from across the diocese. You can read Bishop Hugh’s sermon here.

The Cross of St Piran is an annual award which is presented to individuals who have gone above and beyond in their service. They are largely nominated by their peers and can be recognised for everything from length of service to specific projects.

Speaking after the service, Bishop Hugh said: “As I gave out the St Piran’s awards to our wonderful recipients, it struck me that each of them is a bright light, shining with love for God and people, in communities up and down Cornwall. I am so grateful for each of them, and for all the good they have each done – often quietly and in hidden ways.”

Liam Crabtree from Liskeard

Liam, who was nominated by the church, is a relative newcomer to St Martin’s Church, Liskeard, but he has made a huge impact since his arrival.

Liam’s story is not the easiest one. Following his partner’s tragic death, he was left to bring up five young children on his own. Initially a client of Christians Against Poverty, Liam was encouraged to join an Alpha course and soon committed his life to Christ. In September 2022 he and all his children were baptised in St Martin’s Church.

In their nomination the church said: “We name Liam as our church’s best evangelist! His love for Jesus is so strong that he spreads the word among his friends. Together with one of our Transforming Mission leaders, he has helped to set up a men’s group consisting of mostly younger men, also with troubled pasts, who have struggled with poverty, addictions, and mental health issues. This group, called SOAR (“soaring on wings like eagles”), meets regularly in three different locations including St Martin’s Church Hall and has grown in number over recent months. Thanks to Liam, it now boasts 30 members, with an average of 15 attending each week.”

Reflecting on his award, Liam said: “I was thrilled to be nominated for this award. I am thankful for being accepted and having such a supportive church and church family. I am dedicating my award to all the amazing blokes who are part of Soar – they’re legends! And most importantly thanking our Lord, for the blessings you have bestowed on my life.”

Miss Verna Jones from Launceston

Verna was nominated for her award by her congregation for giving her time in different ways to Tremaine Church for many years. From stepping outside of her comfort zone to be PCC treasurer to being a member of the PCC and a Churchwarden for more years than anyone can remember.

Verna has been the moving force behind many events to draw people to the church, a number of these revolved around music. Many in the community may know Verna as spent her career teaching music at Wadebridge School and has tutored huge numbers of children over the years. Many of those youngsters went on to become professional musicians because of the extra effort Verna was willing to put into them.

Verna has played the harmonium at Tremaine Church putting up with its foibles until it eventually gave up and now, at 85, plays for our services using her battery-powered keyboard as there is no electricity. She is always willing to say ‘yes’ when other churches need someone to play, taking on church organs when she is not an organist, refusing to be daunted even when they are too large for someone of her short stature. In addition, she regularly goes into a local care home to provide accompaniment for Communion Services there.

Her steadfastness and Christian faith are a constant inspiration to others at Tremaine. When met with difficulties she always says, ‘we go ahead’ and she is always right. She is the bedrock that provides support not just to Tremaine Church but many of the rural churches – one never quite knows where she will pop up playing for a service.

Speaking before collecting her award, Verna said: “Over the years I have worked with many kind and hardworking people connected with the church and community over a wide area. I feel it is the ‘Working together’ that helps to create progress and more confidence in acquiring measures of success. In that light, I say thank you and humbly accept this award.”

David Williams from Helston

David’s nomination was in recognition for his work with the Mustard Seed in Helston. David became involved about 15 years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength ever since. It is a Christian charity which houses The Helston and Lizard Foodbank and Mustard Seed’s teaching programme – a vocational style of training within the catering trade. David and the people at the Mustard Seed work with all the local churches and statutory agencies to help the most vulnerable in our Deanery.

David said: “I feel immensely honoured to have been awarded a Cross of St Piran. As a proud Cornishman, I love this beautiful Duchy of Cornwall and the amazing people who live here.

“To me this award speaks of unity; actively caring for those around us and persistence. We all can make a difference; whether large or small it does not matter, what matters is that together we try, that we love as God would and that we don’t give up.”

David is a committed Christian who manages the Mustard Seed, but has a hands-on approach providing help, support, and signposting for a variety of people, including those with physical disabilities and mental health issues.

David is humorous, has immense patience and is highly approachable which enables clients to trust him quickly. He is modest, kind and is a trained counsellor which is vital for caring for some of the Foodbank clients whose situations make it hard for them to express their feelings in a calm manner.

David displays such constant Christian values and his desire to influence others by deeds rather than words is palpable. He promotes and encourages churches working together and helps with services by extending his love of music to all with lively worship.

A volunteer at the Mustard Seed, said of David: If given this award, I can predict that he will say it is nothing to do with him but is down to the work of those around him. But we will all know the truth!”

Lucy Thompson from Falmouth

Lucy’s award was a Bishop’s Award for Climate Justice and Creation Care and was presented in recognition of the passion for Creation Care Lucy has demonstrated in her local area and beyond.

Lucy said: “It is a wonderful surprise and a great honour to be awarded a Cross of St Piran. It is a real privilege to be a member of the South Carnmarth Creation Care team, helping to promote a love of and care for, nature and the environment.

“We are all proud of The Falmouth Way, and the way in which it is leading people to enjoy God’s creation, as they discover new pathways to explore our beautiful churches and Glasney Field.

“In receiving the award, I feel I am ‘taking one for the team’ in the nicest possible way!”

Lucy has a real passion for the outdoors and Creation Care and, within South Carnmarth, gathered an equally passionate team to ensure that each parish church could play their part.

Prior to an official launch by Bishop Hugh in April 2023, the team had identified several initiatives which followed the theme of Creation Care and revealed a vision for the way ahead. High on the agenda was to produce a booklet entitled ‘The Falmouth Way’, which would link all the churches within the deanery plus Glasney Field in Penryn. The booklet includes a series of maps highlighting walks around the churches and churchyards. For the more adventurous or energetic, the maps provide information as to how you can walk from one church to another along small country lanes, footpaths, and fields.

“The vision is that this booklet will bring visitors to the beautiful parish churches to enjoy the buildings, churchyards, and surrounding countryside. This will lead to an awareness of the flora, fauna and wildlife which can be spotted, or waits to be discovered.  It was through Lucy’s vision and drive to complete the task that ‘The Falmouth Way’ is in place today.

Revd Mark Richards from Camborne

For almost 15 years Mark Richards has worked in healthcare chaplaincy in Cornwall, much of that time as Lead Chaplain at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust. Under his leadership and with his Christian faith as his bedrock, the Chaplaincy team has become an integral part of the day-to-day life at Cornwall’s only acute hospital.

Mark said: “I am both honoured and humbled to receive the Cross of St Piran. Being a Healthcare Chaplain has always been a privilege, particularly during the years of the pandemic. I wish to thank all my Chaplaincy colleagues and my family for all their love and support.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic Mark was instrumental in leading the team through an ever-changing landscape. It was Mark who began a daily ‘Thought for the Day’ for senior leaders who were making significant decisions. These were later extended to recordings on YouTube for all staff to see and to get inspiration from. Mark always puts patient and staff care front and centre of what he does.

Mark takes great care to support NHS staff and through his time in the Trust has built up relationships with numerous individuals, regardless of position, from managers, to ward staff and support staff. Mark is a firm believer in witnessing to “the three mile an hour God”, seeking to promote an attitude of not rushing (like so much in the NHS) but rather demonstrating a slower pace, giving time to all those to whom he ministers.

Mark is also the regional representative of the College of Healthcare Chaplains and has established a monthly online collaborative for chaplains across the South West to gather, share experiences, and learn from one another.

Outside of work, Mark takes an active part in his local community including being Chair of Camborne Cricket Club.

The other recipients

  • Martin Wright, Powder
  • Jan Varney, St Austell
  • Merisa Macinnes, St Austell
  • Lesley Seth, Carnmarth North
  • Mary Pearce, Trigg Minor & Bodmin
  • Richard Margetts, East Wivelshire
  • Ian Halford, Powder
  • Andy de Rozarieux, Penwith
  • Lyn Colborne, West Wivelshire
  • Jill Bunt, Pydar