Rev Diane Westmoreland bids farewell to Amble
After eight years as vicar of St Cuthbert’s Church, Rev Diane Westmoreland is moving on to a new Parish.
Rev Diane as she was affectionately known by hundreds of local schoolchildren, is taking up a new post in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire.
Originally from Tadcaster, Diane was ordained in 1998. Before moving to Amble in 2008, she and her husband lived in York, and found the move to the Friendliest Port a refreshing change.
“It was so different to walk into a local shop and be greeted in such a friendly manner,” said Diane. “I loved how people still greeted each other in the street. It was very different from my time in York when some shopkeepers hardly looked at you when they gave you your change.”
Diane’s own friendly nature was reflected in her request for the schoolchildren to call her Rev Diane.
“I found a real welcome and friendship in the First Schools and Brambles. I didn’t want to be known as Reverend Westmoreland by such young children. It’s wonderful to walk around town and hear a young voice call out: ‘Hello Rev Diane’. One or two people in the congregation still call me Vicar, but most people have always called me Diane.”
Asked what she felt stood out from her time at St Cuthbert’s, Diane has no hesitation: “I think my biggest achievement in Amble has been to help the parish church understand itself as the church for the parish, serving the community.
“One thing that symbolises that is the fact that now the church is unlocked during the day. So many people have commented on this and we know people now use the church during the day. When I came here, it was locked. It took a bit of persuading.
“Amble has changed since I’ve lived here. People said it was rough at night and there was a lot of vandalism. I couldn’t see much evidence of bad behaviour. As an incomer, I thought ‘it looks pretty peaceful to me!’
The church has been unlocked for more than six years now. We have glass on the inside doors to make it look less intimidating for people to come in. I think you have to have a more trusting mindset.”
Instigating change has been the hardest part of Diane’s time at St Cuthbert’s, but she points out that the church has changed in many ways since it was built in 1870.
“If you look at the history of St Cuthbert’s, it’s one of continual change since the Victorian age,” she says. “There was no electric lighting or heating, there was no chancel or screen. It looked very different. The choir stalls came from the chapel of the Good Shepherd in Radcliffe, which was bombed in WW2. They were put in in 1942. I’ve just played my part in developing the church.”
Diane has very much enjoyed her time at St Cuthbert’s. She will particularly miss the sea, and walking along the beach at Hauxley.
“It’s been a wonderful experience living by the sea. That has been a great blessing. It will be a wrench to leave the people, the community and the life and friends I’ve made in Amble.”
We wish her the very best in her new ministry in North Yorkshire.