Sister Pat Holland
Pat started her Church Army ministry, after commissioning, in 1962, in a parish in Cambridge, living in a caravan in the vicarage garden, her first challenge being to start a youth club.
Due to an emergency in the family, she had to then move back to Blackburn. Pat was initially invited by her Vicar and PCC for an initial 6 months to serve as Parish Sister in Lancaster with the permission of the Bishop of Blackburn. Pat subsequently served in Lancaster for 5 years.
In 1970 the MOD approached Church Army for Church Army sisters to become Chaplains’ Assistant and the Chief Secretary of Church Army approached Pat to apply for one of these positions. In September 1970 Pat became a Church Army sister seconded to the RAF, licensed by the Archbishop and paid by the Civil Service, wearing a RAF uniform. Pat moved with this role all around the UK (Brize Norton, Lyneham and Marham) and even had a stint in Cyprus. Pat remembers an amazing and challenging ministry, supporting those serving in the forces, and their families, and was blessed by wonderful chaplains of all types of churchmanship and denominations.
At RAF Marham Pat met her husband Bill. They were both involved in caring for one of the families who were coming to terms with the husband dying of cancer. Bill worked as an Air Traffic Controller and an RAF Officer. Bill was also involved in hospital visiting and so they would share updates on this particular family and this is how they got to know each other better, whilst also at the same time both living in the Officer’s Mess. They married in October 1978, in the Station Church, and in 1981 they moved to RAF Machrihanish, on the tip of Argyll and at the same time Pat was made redundant. As there was no chaplain on the base Pat supported the families, who often had no family of their own around them, as an unpaid Chaplain’s Assistant. Pat also used this time to preach in all sorts of different churches and contexts, always telling people about the work of Church Army.
In 1983 the family returned to England, and moved to Cambridge and Pat continued her non-stipendiary ministry at RAF Wyton, licenced by the Bishop of Ely.
In 1994 Bill was moved to RAF Innswoth and the Bishop passed Pat’s name on to the Bishop of Gloucester and Pat became a non-stipendiary Parish Sister at St Michael and All Angels in Bishop’s Cleeve until she reached the cut off age of 75. For the last 22 years Pat and Bill have been involved at Michael’s Church, Bishops Cleeve where Pat has particularly been involved in work with the elderly.
When women’s ordination came it was the end of military Chaplains’ Assistants.
Pat writes "Over the last 53 I have had the great joy in sharing in so many lives, the good times, the difficult and sad times. Lives that have changed as they chose to follow our Lord. What a blessing it has been and I thank God for his faithfulness."