ST Ambrose Church on Bournemouth’s West Cliff provided the setting for a thanksgiving service celebrating the 30th anniversary of Rev Chris Colledge’s ordination.

Mr Colledge worked around the world on a container ship and took part in a year-long voluntary scheme in Australia before attending theological college in Chichester.

A year after being ordained a Deacon in the Church of England, he was ordained Priest in Canterbury Cathedral by the then Archbishop Robert, later Lord, Runcie. His first parish was in Deal, Kent, where he served his curacy for three years.

Inspired by his earlier travels, Mr Colledge applied for a position in a Bermuda parish. He said: “It was an exciting ministry but it also held tremendous challenges, especially working amongst a drug culture and in the early days of Aids.

“I chaired a hospice committee responsible for both fund-raising and making recommendations to government about how to address issues.”

On his return to England, Mr Colledge became chaplain of a psychiatric hospital whist also a vicar of a parish in Essex. He told the Daily Echo: “An important element of that ministry was assisting people who had been institutionalised in large hospitals for years to be moved into smaller units in the community.”

After leaving Essex and being offered the opportunity to minister alongside profoundly deaf and deaf blind people by the Royal Association for Deaf People, he became the first clergyman in the Church of England to become a qualified deaf blind interpreter.

This ministry involved interpreting for services in St Paul’s Cathedral as well as other events and being a support to people in hospital or prison.

Reflecting on his ministry, he said: “Communication has always been an important aspect of my 30 years in ministry and it is still of enormous value at the Sunrise Assisted Living home in Westbourne and the other places I assist.”