Sidmouth Reverend Handel Bennett marks 35 years of priesthood and 60 years in the ministry

PUBLISHED: 12:07 27 October 2018

Handel and Joan Bennett. Ref shs 43 18TI 3711. Picture: Terry Ife

Handel and Joan Bennett. Ref shs 43 18TI 3711. Picture: Terry Ife


"One always hopes they leave the world a better place than when they come into it."

Handel Bennett. Ref shs 43 18TI 3684. Picture: Terry IfeHandel Bennett. Ref shs 43 18TI 3684. Picture: Terry Ife

Those are the words of Sidmouth Reverend Handel Bennett who will soon be celebrating 35 years of priesthood and 60 years in the ministry.

To mark the landmark anniversary, the 84-year-old will be speaking about his incredible life’s journey and reflecting back on his time, including everything from when he was a shoemaker to when he lived in Uganda.

Handel, who also celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with wife Joan this year, said: “It has been a tremendous life and journey which I have had the pleasure of enjoying for a great deal of time. I have really enjoyed my ministry and life to the full.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my wife and my faith.”

Handel is well known in Sidmouth and has some incredible stories - including the time he took a call for a £2.3million donation for the Sid Vale Association.

Members of the community will be able to enjoy a special presentation from Handel who will be sharing his memories and how he was motivated by a sense of Christian commitment, through his upbringing and experiences at work at Sidmouth Parish Church from 4.30pm next Sunday (November 4).

Handel has spoken to the Herald about his life to give people a taste of what to expect

Handel trained as a shoemaker, and office administrator before he moved to Uganda at the tender age of 23. Handel and his now 84-year-old wife Joan went to Africa on a church mission looking to teach people to read and give them access to books.

Handel later expanded an existing bookshop before moving to Zambia, where he ran the largest bookshop on the Copperbelt. Handel was a lay reader during throughout his time in Africa. He then returned to England with his family and worked for a Christian travel company. He also trained at the Canterbury School of Ministry, and was ordained priest in Canterbury Cathedral. Handel served churches in the Dover area and Bedford, before eventually retiring to Sidmouth. For the past 18 years Handel he has also taken part in civic and voluntary work with the Sid Vale Association.

Anyone that wants to attend next Sunday, to hear Handel’s story, will also be able to participate in Evensong afterwards, if they so wish.

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