WIRRAL Rector Dr Jonathan Gibbs has been appointed first Bishop of Huddersfield.

Revd Gibbs, currently Rector of Heswall, will be consecrated in his new role as an area (assistant) bishop on Friday, October 17 at York Minister.

He will be the first Bishop of Huddersfield in the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. The office is part of a relatively new Church of England diocese, formed last Easter from three older ones.

The 53-year-old has been Rector of Heswall since 1998. He was ordained priest in 1990, while serving as a curate in Stalybridge. He was chaplain at Basle with Freiburg-im-Breisgau, in the Diocese of Europe, from 1992-98.

He is a member of Chester's Diocesan Synod, and chair of its House of Clergy, and a member of diocesan committees covering finance and scrutiny, and human resources.

The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, recently announced that Revd Gibbs was to have been made an honorary canon of Chester Cathedral.

Revd Gibbs is married to Toni who with others set up the Besom charity on the Wirral, which provides a bridge between those who want to give time, money, things or skills and those who are in need, working with over 40 agencies in the statutory and voluntary sectors.

They have three children, Harriet (24) who is married to Matthew Curry, Edward (21) and Thomas (18).

In his time as Rector, the parish of Heswall developed links with Christians in Uganda, supported the Wirral Life Expectancy Project, which tackles health inequality on the peninsula, and supported the Wirral Foodbank.

Jonathan grew up in Lower Peover, Cheshire, and was educated at The King’s School in Chester.

He has also been busy on a national and international level, being a member of the C of E’s General Synod, and a member of the Meissen Commission (which links the C of E with the Evangelical Church in Germany).

He’s a member of the Clergy Discipline Commission and he has represented the General Synod on the Council of British Funeral Services and the Churches’ Funerals Group.

His interests include walking, rummaging in second-hand bookshops. He is fluent in German, Swiss-German and French and he and Toni have a love of France, which is where they first met. He is also a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). He is committed to supporting village and community life.

After his appointment as bishop was announced by Number 10 Downing Street today, Jonathan said: "We have thoroughly enjoyed our sixteen years in Heswall.

"It has been a great privilege to minister here and to share in the life of the diocese; we have made many friends and are most grateful for all the kindness we have been shown by so many people in Heswall and beyond, including colleagues in the parish and wider diocese.

"Having grown up here I will miss living in Cheshire but we are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in Huddersfield.”

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: "Jonathan has made a major contribution to the life of the Diocese of Chester and to the parish of Heswall.

"The parish has a splendid new parish centre. As Chair of the House of Clergy he has been a major influence upon diocesan policies. He is ideally placed to be the first Bishop of Huddersfield.

"Huddersfield is a new bishopric covering the local authority areas of Calderdale and Kirklees and is one of five areas in the new diocese, which each have their own bishop."