With her family looking on, Alison Hardy from Bude was ordained as a priest by the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton at Truro Cathedral in July 2015.

Alison, a farmer from just outside Holsworthy, left her family farm a year ago in order to take up a full time curacy in north Cornwall.

Alison said: “Sheep were always my special interest having trained at agricultural college in lowland sheep production. After getting married, my husband Chris and I started farming on my parents’ land before buying our own farm and then taking over my parents’ land as well. Leaving the family was hard, leaving the livestock almost as hard!”

Alison’s journey from farm life to church life began when she was a teenager. “It was discovered I could play the piano and so the village church asked me to play their harmonium for services.”

Alison, now a mum of four, did spend time away from the church while she was at college but after having her first child she returned. “I think it’s the responsibility of having a child. Then over the years I became more involved, joining the PCC and encouraging the children and youth to have a voice and grow their faith.”

It was around seven years ago that Alison felt God was calling her to grow her own faith further and become a priest. “It was quite a difficult thought. My rector had mentioned it to me but I’d brushed it off with a comment about not wanting to give up my modern clothing! But then I heard God saying ‘Why are you worrying about what you are going to wear when this is what I am calling you to do?’ Having sat down and analysed it, I realised it wasn’t such a big step from what I was already doing in leading services.”

Alison says that while the realisation was a shock to her and Chris, others could see where her path was leading. “We were a bit unsure at first about what it would all mean but my family have all been incredibly supportive.”

This support has meant Alison was able to leave the running of the farm to her husband and youngest daughter, who had also studied at agricultural college, while she moved to Bude to undertake her curacy. “It’s quite hard being away so much but I manage to organise my time off so that I am back on the farm for the key management periods: lambing, weaning, tupping, shearing and scanning.

Working in the church full time has also been rewarding. “There is much to learn and so many dedicated Christians supporting their congregations and giving sacrificially that I am constantly humbled by their strong faith displayed in action and through commitment. As I’ve seen God’s hand guiding my own faith journey I have become keen to see how he is leading others. I would like to encourage everyone to put their own gifts to use in their local church. It would be a privilege to be able to help that happen.”

Although Alison says in transferring skills to the clerical ministry she has tried not to see congregations as flocks which need gathering or feeding! “There are overlaps but I think they are the same as with any job that is well done: attention to detail, good planning and care for the individual.”

But building on her rural ties, Alison is interested in rural ministry. “I currently work across four parishes which include a mix of towns through to the very rural. There are existing excellent strong community ties in the countryside and the church can sometimes be the only social activity available. I’d love to do more work in that area.”