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Curates from across The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) gathered recently at Waddow Hall in Clitheroe for a training event focused on effective communication in a media context. 

Led by Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Ronnie Semley, Diocesan Communications Manager, the Curates also got to hear from and learn first-hand from two experienced BBC journalists.

They were guest speakers Joe Wilson, from BBC Radio Lancashire and Christine Morgan, former Head of BBC Religion and Ethics.

Jim Cooke, from Lancaster, who runs Lancashire firm Centreline Films, also led a session on techniques for ‘getting it right on camera’. 

Rev Rie Walker, Vicar at St Margaret, Ingol (Benefice) supported the organisation of the conference beforehand; as well as logistics during the event itself with help from Katherine Philips, Administrative Officer in the Diocesan 'Growing Leaders' team. 

Entitled ‘Say Jesus: Communicating the Gospel Effectively’ it was held across three days and covered a huge range of topics, from handling crisis situations to writing press releases and for the web; handling difficult interviews to using social media and much more. 

Curates attending the conference came from across Lancashire … Cockerham, Winmarleigh and Glasson, Euxton, Preston (multiple parishes), Longridge, Accrington, Ellel, Higher Walton, Hoghton, Bamber Bridge, Walton le Dale, Leyland, Torrisholme, Lancaster, Poulton-le-Sands and Morecambe.

Other places represented at the conference were Haslingden, Grane, Stonefold, Musbury, Nelson, Ansdell and Fairhaven, Blackpool (multiple parishes), Dolphinholme, Quernmore and Over Wyresdale, Chorley, Burnley, West Pendleside, Fellside, Padiham, Hapton, Padiham, Poulton, Carleton and Singleton, Clitheroe.

Joe Wilson, who presents a number of programmes on the BBC station, including the Sunday morning faith-based breakfast show, provided excellent insight about how the station works; the best ways to engage and also shared stories from across his career during a subsequent Q and A session.

Christine, meanwhile, was the after-dinner speaker on the second night and spoke further on the Wednesday morning; both fascinating talks, peppered with helpful advice and covering a long career at the BBC spanning 30+ years.

Following the conference, she said: “I was delighted to receive the invitation to speak to Curates at Blackburn Diocese and to share some insights about working effectively with the media from their faith perspective.”

Bishop Philip commented: “Our curates are a lively bunch at the best of times, but three days spent reflecting on communications and how we get our message across brought out the very best in them. We were richly blessed with expert input from Lancashire’s own Joe Wilson.

“Then, with Christine Morgan, people received an excellent overview of working in the media with a faith perspective. I hope this short conference will make a big difference in how confident our curates feel in dealing with the media and communicating positive messages.

Ronnie Semley is an experienced journalist himself, with many years in senior positions in the media and then communications and PR for councils and also the NHS.

Ronnie added: “This was a chance to demystify, inform, educate, equip and entertain those participating via a series of helpful but also practical sessions led by myself, Bishop Philip and our fantastic guest speakers. 

“From feedback received so far it’s clear the Curates found it really useful, with the practical work that formed a key part of the three days being an important part of the success of the whole event.

“They were all highly engaged throughout … and particular thanks must go to several brave souls who put themselves forward to be grilled by me in ‘difficult interviews’ in front of their peers!”

Captions below for the above photos:

  • All the Curates who attended the conference outside Waddow Hall for a group photo with, front row (centre four) left to right, Rev. Rie Walker, Christine Morgan, Bishop Philip and Ronnie Semley.
  • Jim Cooke (left) of Lancaster and Centreline Films pictured with Rev. Rie Walker and Bishop Philip during a break from the practical sessions on the second day.
  • Christine Morgan makes a point during her presentation to Curates.
  • Joe Wilson discusses working at BBC Radio Lancashire with the Curates.
  • Standing, left to right, Ronnie Semley, Christine Morgan and Bishop Philip during a Q and A session at the conference.
  • Ronnie Semley, Diocesan Communications Manager, makes a point during one of his sessions at the conference. 



Ronnie Semley, November 2021