THE Rev Canon Dr Judy Hunt - a former assistant priest in Heswall - is to become the Church of England’s 13th woman Archdeacon. Her appointment as Archdeacon of Suffolk was announced to the synod of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich held on Saturday.

It was simultaneously announced by the Bishop of Chester at the synod of the Diocese of Chester.

Canon Hunt will take up her new senior appointment early in the autumn at a date yet to be fixed.

She was one of the first women to be ordained in the Diocese of Chester, and has spent her entire ordained ministry here – from 1991 until now.

Following a period as a deacon in Heswall, Wirral, she became Priest-in-Charge of the rural parishes of Tilston and Shocklach in Cheshire from 1995 to 2003.

She has also held the posts of Deanery Adviser for Children and Young People, Adviser for Women in Ministry, and Assistant Director of Ordinands.

Canon Hunt, of Abbey Street, Chester, became Director of Ministry in 2003 and the Mission portfolio was added three years later.

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said: “Judy has been an outstanding minister in our diocese in a variety of roles.

"In recent years she has been an exceptional Director of Mission and Ministry. We shall miss her very much but we are delighted for her and for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.”

A former vet specialising in equine surgery, and a former lecturer at Liverpool’s Veterinary School, Canon Hunt is joining a diocese that includes the horse-racing centre of Newmarket.

“I was offered a role in an important research project in Newmarket, just as I was considering ordination,” Judy recalled. “I was never able to tell them why I wasn’t keen to work in Suffolk then, but I’m very pleased to be going now.”

She added: “I passionately believe in the call and the ability of each and every local church to be alive and attractive.

“I leave the Diocese of Chester with many happy memories of fellowship and hard work, as well as fun. The area and its Christian communities have given me great strength and support over the past 24 years as both a lay and ordained person.

"I am grateful for the opportunities for ministry that this current post has given – and to colleagues for the fruitful work we have done.”

Judy succeeds the Venerable Geoffrey Arrand who retires as Archdeacon of Suffolk in August. She will be collated and installed as the new Archdeacon of Suffolk at services in the early autumn.