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Meet Revd Dr Julia Candy, Chaplain (Hatfield College and St Cuthbert’s Society)

Where did it all start? 

I am a very proud Geordie and grew up in Whitley Bay in north-east England. I attended a state comprehensive school and further education college. I guess I have always had a contrarian streak as a few days after starting secondary school, we had to talk about our ambitions in life. I said I wanted to go to either Oxford or Cambridge University, to which I was met with widespread derision and told that ‘people like us don’t go to places like that’.

Fast forward seven years: I matriculated as an undergraduate at King’s College, Cambridge University. I firmly believe that no one should be restricted to achieve their goals or aspiration owing to their sex, gender, race, social class, disability, sexuality or religious belief/philosophical outlook.

Initially I studied Politics but changed courses and read Psychology. I then went to study for a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast. My research examined the impact of experiences of political violence and socio-economic status upon children’s development of national identity and sectarian attitudes.

After completing my PhD, I researched and lectured in Psychology departments at Queen’s Belfast, Durham University and Teesside University. I began training for ordination in the Church of England at Westcott House, while also studying for an undergraduate degree in Theology and Religious Studies at Jesus College, Cambridge University.

Tell us about your career to date

I was ordained at Durham Cathedral in 2010 and served my curacy (essentially a trainee vicar apprenticeship!) at St Giles, Gilesgate, then St Mary’s, Sherburn and St Cuthbert’s, Shadforth.

Following this, I became a hospital chaplain at University College Hospital London (UCHL). I always describe being a hospital chaplain as simultaneously being one of the best and worst jobs in the world. I loved my time at UCHL, working with such a supportive and inspiring multi-faith team. I was also extremely fortunate to receive funding to study at the Institute of Psychoanalysis while working as a hospital chaplain.

I then became vicar of St John’s, West Hendon and St Peter’s, Cricklewood and served as sub-dean of West Barnet. I relished my time in North West London as it allowed me to get involved with the local community, particularly ensuring the voices of those who are often marginalised were given a platform and taken seriously - especially in regards to housing development in the area.

Tell us about your current role 

I am presently part-time chaplain of Hatfield College and St Cuthbert’s Society. As Chaplain, my role involves providing pastoral, spiritual and religious support for all Hatfield and Cuthbert's students and staff, regardless of faith or philosophical commitment. I also lead services in Hatfield Chapel, working alongside the chapel choir.

Currently, I am also Pastoral Theology Tutor at Lindisfarne College of Theology, training others for ministry in the Church of England and other Christian denominations.

What are your next steps in your career? 

Secretary of State for Education! In all seriousness, I am happy where I am presently. Having said that, I am always up for another adventure.

What advice would you give women looking to succeed in your area of work?  

If you are a chaplain in a secular environment, I am not always too sure colleagues know exactly what you do or how best to utilise your skills. In one light, this is very liberating as you get to create the post and how you imagine it to best serve the community. Yet in another light, one can find themselves being overlooked. Thus, I would suggest to any woman wanting to become a chaplain: be confident in the amazing skills and abilities you will possess and never be afraid to let everyone else know about what you do.

Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

I presently have a three-year-old, so I don’t think I have the healthiest work/life balance... However, I find escaping the mundane and spending time by the sea or hearing others’ stories about their lives (especially those who consider themselves to be dull because they never are!) really helps provide meaning and put things into perspective.

What are your interests/passions outside of work?

I love the theatre, especially plays by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Sarah Kane. I am an avid reader, particularly 19th and 20th century French and Russian literature.

For me, my passions are the three ‘Ps’: Politics, Psychology and, most importantly, the Pet Shop Boys! One day I will write a book that is bound to be a bestseller: ‘The Philosophy of the Pet Shop Boys’…