From lorry driver to paramedic to curate

A FORMER paramedic has spoken out about why he decided to exchange his medical profession for a career centred on his Christian faith. Rev Ian Hepburn, who has joined Bolton Parish as curate, said he “has not taken what he imagines to be the typical vicar route.” On graduating as a microbiologist, the now 42-year-old became a lorry driver. “I had had enough of studying”, Mr Hepburn said, “so I got my truck licence and began driving wagons.

After two years, I became really aware that this was not the right job for someone who really enjoys working with people.” Mr Hepburn joined Greater Manchester Ambulance Service, now North West Ambulance Service, completing his training in 2002 to become a technician, then paramedic, and latterly a member of the Hazardous Area Response Team. The married father-of-three, who lives in Westhoughton, said: “When I joined, I knew I would be exposed to the gritty realities of the world.

For me, it was a challenge; how could I maintain faith, and see light in the darkness.” He attended dozens of incidents during his 14-year employment, including the 2012 Oldham gas explosion and Bosley mill blast in 2015. Outside of work, Mr Hepburn was active in the life of his church, St John’s, Wingates.

He said: “I couldn’t get this line out of my head: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to spend your life on God’s work.” Serving as a warden, Mr Hepburn said he was “quite happy changing lightbulbs, being behind the sound desk and occasionally helping with prayers.” But he was gradually given increased responsibility and encouraged to lead from the front. In 2016, obedient to his calling, he began studying at St Mellitus College North West before beginning his formal training in the benefice of Blackrod, Daisy Hill, Westhoughton and Wingates.

At the end of last month, he was ordained as a deacon during a service at Manchester Cathedral. Mr Hepburn said: “Working with people is fantastic and seeing being a part of what God is doing in this community is really exciting.” He will serve in Bolton Parish, which includes Bolton Parish Church and St Philip’s in Great Lever.

Bolton Parish Church has posted on its website: “Congratulations to Rev Ian Hepburn on his ordination as deacon — we look forward to welcoming you as curate to this united benefice.”

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