Bishop of Barking retires with Songs of Praise celebrating episcopal area’s diversity

Bishop of Barking David Hawkins speaks at his farewell "Songs of Praise"

Bishop of Barking David Hawkins speaks at his farewell "Songs of Praise" - Credit: Archant

When David Hawkins was appointed the Bishop of Barking 11 years ago, few could have imagined the changes that would happen under his watch.

When David Hawkins was appointed the Bishop of Barking 11 years ago, few could have imagined the changes that would happen under his watch.

The successful Olympic bid in 2005 was the highlight.

But Bishop Hawkins also helped lead the episcopal area of Barking – covering the deaneries of Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham – into the 21st century.

Now as he prepares to retire at the end of the month, he is looking back on his career: “In this past decade we have seen this huge change in London. The slogan ‘the east is a new west’ is really beginning to happen – that could not have happened before.


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“There have been a lot of changes, not just in Newham. There have been changes all over [east London] – a lot has changed for the better.

“The highlight is the work we did as a church in the build-up to the Olympic Games in those five years – celebrating the Olympics, to join hands and create community festivals, but in a way that there was a legacy after 2012.”

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Bishop Hawkins, 65, was prepared for the role, spending six years in Nigeria and a further 16 in Leeds before his ordination to the episcopate.

“It was a big change in many ways but in terms of social issues there was a lot of similarity,” he explained.

“The wide-ranging community in Leeds – that is very much a feature of east London.”

So how will he be spending his retirement?

“We are retiring to north Yorkshire,” he said. “I am an ornithologist and I am also an artist and with the wonderful scenery there will be loads to paint.

“My wife Carole and I are going to really enjoy doing things together. We have been married for 41 years, but it is going to be very good to spend quality time together.”

A retirement “songs of praise” at Chelmsford Cathedral last week called upon Britain’s Got Talent finalist Molly Rainford and Ilford mime artist Ken Wylie, not to mention a 55-piece orchestra.

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