Former parishioner honoured by bishop

Thursday 20th January 2022 8:43 am
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Ann Johnstone in Petersfield’s Oxfam shop

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A PARISHIONER at St Laurence Catholic Church in Petersfield and former Buriton resident has been awarded the prestigious Portsmouth Diocesan Medal for ‘outstanding fidelity and service’.

Ann Johnstone, 85, was a children’s catechist – a teacher of the principles of Christian religion – at St Laurence’s for more than 20 years.

Parish priest Father Peter Hollins said: “I am very grateful to Ann – she was committed to teaching young children the Christian faith, but with the onset of Covid she decided it was time to retire.

“She has been a dedicated and very active member of the parish since 1982 and contributed to the parish and wider community despite restricted movement and challenging chronic pain over the past ten years.

“So the Parish Pastoral Council decided to ask Bishop Philip Egan to award her the Diocesan Medal, and we are delighted her magnificent efforts have been recognised.”

As well as teaching children, Ann also arranged fundraising teas and collected bottle tops for Rowans Hospice and Naomi House, involving her child catechists as much as possible.

She also volunteered as a flower arranger and prepared and maintained candle stands, and for many years was the local co-ordinator of the annual Ride ‘n’ Stride national fundraiser.

A former sick children’s and state registered nurse, Ann lived abroad for many years with her husband.

She worked for the Nigerian police, volunteered in orphanages and schools in Nigeria and Thailand, where she was the overall Girl Guide leader, and also a Samaritan.

A notable highlight was meeting the Queen of Thailand, and when the family left Thailand, she was presented with the King’s Medal by the minister of the interior.

Back in the UK, Ann taught children with learning difficulties at local schools and studied for an Open University arts and social sciences degree.

She was also a volunteer for many years for Oxfam and worked behind the till in the Sue Ryder charity shop in Petersfield.

Ann, who now lives in Somerset to be near her daughter, also has a son and five grandchildren.

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