The Rev Richard Coles, a former pop star turned Church of England priest and Radio 4 presenter, is the latest celebrity to join Strictly Come Dancing!
I ran away to London in 1980 sensing that my future lay there. When I arrived I bumped into Jimmy Somerville who’d also run away from Glasgow with the same idea! Jimmy had this extraordinary talent and I was able to hitch my wagon onto that with The Communards (not to be confused with the Commodores!) But I never set out to be a pop star. And frankly, I think I made a rather useless one!
Faith is a lifeline
Although I was a chorister when I was a boy and grew up singing about religion I never believed any of it until I was in my late 20s when life got a bit turbulent. Everything ended rather messily as I came out of pop music. It was as I was trying to pick myself up from that that suddenly faith started to make sense. The first time I went to church as a participant rather than a spectator I felt something shift within me – I suddenly knew this was my natural habitat.
Being a parish priest is the best job
What I love most about being a vicar is the way I’m woven into the community. Of course we priests moan about work like everyone else, but really it is a blessing. There are times when I’m alone in church early in the morning and I’m conscious that 700 years ago someone like me was doing exactly the same job. I hope that in another 700 years somebody else will be still doing it.
You have to let grief happen
I recently lost my dad and am only now beginning to get to grips with it. I was glad I was able to anoint my father just before he died, but I didn’t want to play a big part in his funeral. Grief is a long process and it’s something you have to let happen to you. The older I get the more I realise just what a huge influence Dad had on me.
Helping through the church is humbling
Sometimes as a vicar you can help people get a perspective on their circumstances they can’t get themselves. But often it’s just being alongside them in the hope and faith there’s the possibility of a new life that can transform everything.
Dogs are good for the soul
My big passion in life is sausage dogs and I have four: Daisy, Pongo, Audrey and Horatio. I had a sausage dog when I was little and I love that they’re feisty and intelligent, loyal and really annoying sometimes. I also love it that they’re not the least bit interested in me being either a vicar or on television!
Back in 2015, Richard released his autobiography, Fathomless Riches: How I went from Pop to Pulpit - it makes for a very entertaining read, and his love of dogs is clear from the cover image.
- Richard is a contestant in the new series of Strictly Coming Dancing, beginning on BBC in September