The Council of Westcott House has appointed the Revd Dr Helen Dawes to be Principal with effect from February 2021.
Bishop Paul Ferguson, Chair of the Council of Westcott House, said: ‘Helen will bring very special gifts and insights as she joins Westcott House as Principal. I look forward to her leading the college, building on its distinctiveness and the best of what its tradition can offer, whilst creatively exploring opportunities for nurturing ministers, servants and leaders. As a highly capable parish priest who has extensive experience of the national Church, Helen is uniquely placed to lead Westcott into the future.
Helen will bring a deep-rooted love for the local church and the practical wisdom needed to partner with dioceses and the wider church so that our students are ready to flourish in ministry and so that Westcott plays a full part in the renewal of the Church’s mission. It will be a joy to be able to welcome Helen to Cambridge.’
Helen Dawes grew up in the South West and studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. She worked in strategic and regulatory consulting before training for ministry at Westcott House. Helen was ordained in 2002 and served in parish ministry in the dioceses of Ely and St Albans.
In 2009 Helen joined the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff team at Lambeth Palace, where she was Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs to Archbishop Rowan Williams and then Social and Public Affairs Adviser to Archbishop Justin Welby. Since 2015 Helen has been Team Rector of Shaftesbury in the Diocese of Salisbury, where she has also been Dean of Women’s Ministry since 2016.
Helen studied for her PhD at King’s College London and her academic work focuses on the intersection of theology with economic life and public policy. Alongside her parish ministry, Helen has wide-ranging interests in Christian engagement in the public square.
The Revd Dr Helen Dawes said: ‘I am delighted to have this opportunity to lead Westcott House at a critical and exciting time in its history. The Church of England is building a vision for grass-roots ministry in the years ahead and I look forward to working with the Westcott community to serve the Church in its central task of loving God and loving neighbour. I know that Westcott House stands ready to resource future clergy and lay leaders out of the best of its liberal catholic tradition, its deep contextual links with Cambridgeshire and Manchester, and its relationships with the universities of Cambridge and Durham.
I am really excited about the possibilities there will be to build on our history and to develop creative partnerships that will prepare our students to bring the transforming love of God to the communities they serve. In a year where every part of society, including our churches, has been under enormous pressure, we have also been reminded of the difference made by people working in every kind of front-line role in local communities. Preparing students to carry the people of God on their hearts in the parishes and chaplaincies of the Church of England is a precious and weighty responsibility. It is a real privilege to have been trusted with this role by the Council of Westcott House and I can’t wait to start working with the staff, students and families of Westcott House in the new year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bishop Tim Stevens, Acting Principal, and the staff team for the excellent work they have done in recent months, which shone through in every conversation I had with students and families when I visited Westcott for interview.’
Notes for editors
The photograph above shows the Reverend Dr Helen Dawes by the bell in Old Court, Westcott House. The bell calls students to the regular chapel services that form the backbone of community life at Westcott House. The bell is inscribed with a line from the Bible. The Greek text on the bell is πιστοÍ€ς οÌ” καλωÍ‚ν, which is translated ‘the one who calls is faithful’. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)