About Us

Vision and values

We are a friendly, community church serving Ashmore Park and the Perry Hall and Castlebridge estates - the eastern part of the parish of Wednesfield. 

Passionate about God

We’re passionate about God - because God is passionate about people. 

We believe that if you read the Bible you’ll find it is the greatest love story ever written. In gripping narrative, beautiful poetry, life stories, personal letters, and dramatic visions it tells how God sought to win back the hearts of mankind, eventually sending his own son, Jesus, to lay down his life for us. 

But it’s not just a story - it really happened. The Bible ties in with all that history and archaeology can tell us about the times and places it refers to. It is consistent with all that science tells us about how the world works. It truly is the real story of our world.

Passionate about people 

And we’re passionate about people - because God is too. We have people of every age and from many different backgrounds. So you too can come exactly as you are - we’re not here to judge you but to welcome you. We’re not perfect ourselves - we’re just being changed from the inside out, as we discover quite how much God loves us.  

Leadership

Ministry

Tom Fish

Tom Fish

Vicar

Tom leads the church in partnership with a lay leadership team and the District Church Council. As part of the Wednesfield Team Ministry, he works closely with the Team Rector, Revd Nick Watson, who is based at St Thomas’s church in Wednesfield town centre. Tom and his wife Helen moved to Ashmore Park in 2019, after 6 years establishing a new church community in another part of the Black Country. 

Tom and Helen can both be seen out for early morning runs, and they also like cycling and sailing (mainly on the Norfolk Broads these days). They occasionally make music together and have discovered during lockdown some (limited) ability in performing and recording video dramas. 

Guilty pleasure: Cryptic crosswords. 

Terry Braithwaite

Terry Braithwaite

Licenced Lay Minister

Terry shares responsibility with Tom for leading services and preaching. He also has a significant ministry taking funerals, and shares in pastoral care for members of the church and the wider community. He is a local boy - he grew up on Ashmore Park - is married to Mavoureen, and has a professional background in social work. 

Terry is also a member of the folk music group Anam Caras, who base their music around Celtic spirituality.

Through the Covid-19 crisis Terry has become famous in our online community for thoughtful, often hilarious and sometimes challenging “St Alban’s Thoughts for the Day” on Facebook. 

Guilty pleasure: Too many to list - listen to Thought for the Day for details! 

Helen Hammond

Helen Hammond

Children and Families worker

Helen is employed jointly by St Alban’s and St Thomas’s churches, running toddler groups at both churches, an occasional Messy Church and working in local nurseries and schools. 

At St Alban’s she is also involved in Sunday children’s work and Pastoral Care, with a focus on families  

She too was brought up locally - she lives 200 yards from church and many other members of her family also live on the estate. She is married to Phil and has two children, Matthew and Isobel.

Governance

Derek Bennett

Derek Bennett

Parish Warden

Derek, along with the Parish Warden at St Thomas’s, shares overall responsibility for running of the parish with the Team Rector.  A former naval officer, he now works as a freelance accountant.  He is married to Elaine who also runs a business from home.

In addition to his legal responsibilities, Derek occasionally preaches and leads services, and he and Elaine are also regulars on St Alban’s Thought for the Day.

Guilty Pleasure
Balancing rocks (see picture).

Laurence Fletcher

Laurence Fletcher

District Warden and Worship Team Leader

Laurence, along with Sylvia, the other District Warden, shares overall responsibility for the running of St Alban’s Church.  Laurence is a multi-talented musician who seems to be able to play almost any instrument. In normal times he leads the worship team who provide music for all our services, but the Covid-19 crisis has given him opportunities to develop his multi-track recording skills.

Laurence is married to Janet, who also sings in the worship group, and brings her life-giving smile to every situation.

Guilty pleasure
Buying musical instruments

Sylvia Kelly

Sylvia Kelly

District Warden

As one of the two District Wardens, Sylvia shares overall responsibility with Rev Tom and the other wardens for running St Alban's Church.

Sylvia has lived on Ashmore Park for many years, including till recently working in the local sweet shop, so her face is well known in the local community.



Deb Dale

Deb Dale

Safeguarding and Compliance Officer

Deb works with the vicar to ensure that all church activities provide safe environments, especially for children and vulnerable adults - and that we comply with all relevant regulations.  See Safeguarding

Barry Bishop

Barry Bishop

Treasurer

Barry looks after the church finances, to make sure that all church money is properly accounted for and wisely spent.
He is married to Mandy, who leads the Sunday children’s work, and contributes his smooth baritone (or should we say Barry-tone) voice to the worship group.


Story of the church

Taken from St Thomas Parish Magazine, June 1967:

The Rev’d J Turner remembered how the St Alban’s folders had mounted up since the first one marked “1957 PRELIMINARY” showed the plans of the project, which comes to fruition this month.

“This is the first stage - a church hall. Will the Parish Church (stage 2) be built beside it?” asks the vicar.

1957: Planning and discussion for a church to be built in Ashmore Park

1961: Preliminary sketch plans prepared by church architect, NF Cachemaille-Day, whose designs were later developed by Rev’d Anthony Hill A.R.I.B.A.

1963: The church's dedication (St Alban’s) was decided upon. The building project was launched by a Procession of Witness and open-air service, arranged by Rev’d Roger Bould of St Chad’s on the site next to the Ashmore Inn.

The vicar asked everyone to support the brick-a-week scheme as £40,000 was still needed in March / April. The Rev’d John Smart and his wife moved in to the St Alban’s house.  A letter from Rev’d Smart said he and his wife look forward to the dedication and opening of the dual-purpose Church hall. The date set is 22nd June which appropriately is St Alban’s day - and we shall be honoured by the presence of the Bishop of Lichfield.

Rev’d Smart writes that the children’s church is already flourishing in St Alban’s Primary School.

1967: On Thursday 22nd June - feast of St Alban – the building was dedicated and opened by the Bishop of Lichfield.  The Rev’d John Smart, first occupant of St Alban’s House, was given oversight of the new church.

The pattern of services on the first Sunday was:

  • Family Communion: 9:30am. Celebrant and preacher, the vicar
  • Evensong: 6:30pm. Preacher, Rev’d John Smart

A temporary church committee was formed to sit until the Annual General Meeting the following year.

October 1967 brought men and women of the Church Army to visit and inaugurate home meetings throughout the parish.

1968: The first official committee members were elected at the Annual General Meeting on 23rd April. The first anniversary of the dedication took place.

In July the Ashmore Carnival was run jointly by St Alban’s, Corpus Christi and the estate youth club.  1969 and 1970 saw the carnival continue, and the event was taken over the following year by Wednesfield Council.

1970: A playgroup was started. This ran 3 mornings a week starting in the September term.

1971: Rev’d John Tye succeeded John Smart.  A Girl Guide company was formed.  Later in the year Brownies, Cubs and Scout groups were formed.

1972: The loft above the Vestry is to be made into an upper room.

1973: The Upper Room was completed, the church committee thanked all church members for their hard work on completion of the upper room.

1974: The Upper Room is now open for use (via the back door) from dawn till dusk for anyone wishing to use it.

1975: All church groups running smoothly.

1976: Rev’d Max Welsh succeeded John Tye.  The new Series 3 communion service was introduced.  An 8ft cross was erected on the outside front wall in memory of Dere Southall for his hard work in the early days of the church.

1977: St Chad’s donated their church bell to St Alban’s.

1978: St Chad’s bell was installed in St Alban’s. Thanks were expressed to everyone involved.

1979: Big changes in the parish – from 1st January 1979 the resident ministers of St Alban’s and St Chad’s were to become team vicars and the vicar of St Thomas's will be Team Rector (Wednesfield Team Ministry).  Another change of face this year as the Rev’d Jonathan Cooper (Team Vicar) succeeded Max Welsh.  An addition to church worship was the purchase of an organ.

1980: This year saw two more firsts in our church, in March the Women’s World Day of Prayer was celebrated - women of all denominations were invited.  In June we had a confirmation service, at which Bishop Barry Rogerson presided.  It was a doubly happy event as it was also our patronal festival.

1981: In October St Alban’s was licensed to carry out weddings. The first wedding at St Alban’s was on 5th December between Jim and Betty Ainsley.  

Joan Winterbottom was licensed as minister-in-charge of Old Fallings United Reformed church and as a lay-worker.  She was also St Alban’s lay-reader.  The playgroup closed at the end of the summer term.

1983: Rev’d Colin Duncan succeeded Peter Beresford following the latter’s 1988 move to Rugby.  Rev’d Duncan's wife Virginia Duncan was ordained in July.

1991: Rev’d Virginia Duncan was appointed to serve full-time at St Alban’s Church.  Extensions and alterations took place – St Alban’s Room was added at the front, a large stage area on the side of the church and new toilets.

1992: The Memorial Garden was consecrated by the Bishop of Wolverhampton.

1999: …saw the retirement of Colin and Virginia Duncan.

2000: We were joined midway through the year by Duncan Clarke as a curate.

2002: Duncan Clarke was inducted in St Alban’s 20th September 2002 as team vicar, but at the end of the year he moved to take up an appointment in London.

2003: Rev’d Sue Gulliford took over from Duncan Clarke.

2004: Rev’d Joyce Ford joined Sue Gulliford on a part time basis at St Alban’s, but then Rev’d Gulliford decided to pursue other church avenues, so Rev’d Ford was inducted as team vicar on 4th May 2004.  St Alban’s was rewired and a smoke fire alarm system fitted.

2007: Rev’d Paul Parks succeeded Joyce Ford.  Rev’d Parks induction was on 29th August 2007.  

2008: A new heating system was completed in May.

2011: In 2010 the Paul Parks informed the church committee his last service would be in February 2011.  Rev’d Sam Leach was chosen to replace him and arrived in October 2011.

2012: Much pleasure this year with the arrival of Rev’d Sam and his wife Jo's twins Ellie and Isaac.

During this year work was started to upgrade the grounds and the building inside and outside with new windows, a new refurbished kitchen and the Pop-in room.  This work was completed in 2016.

While this was taking place at St Alban’s, St Chad’s church was closed.  This was a sad time, but many of St Chad’s members were welcomed to St Alban’s.  While the main church was being refurbished the Upper Room was updated with the help of the St Chad’s members.  The room is now St Chad’s Chapel and is used for morning prayer and quite meditation. 

The congregation had increased Sunday by Sunday but seemed to have plateaued between 60-70 each week.

2017: St Alban’s 50th birthday in June was marked by a big celebration and the installation of two pieces of artwork - a cross on the wall behind the stage, with each stone put in by a different person, and a tree collage on the back wall of the main hall. What will the next 50 years bring? Perhaps a congregation of over 100 worshippers, with prayer and God's help.

Raj Kumar, the popular proprietor of the hardware shop, died unexpectedly.  Rev Sam conducted an outdoor service in his memory, and more than 2,000 people attended.  The road behind the shops was renamed Raj Kumar Drive in his honour.

2018: At the Annual Meeting Rev Sam announced that he was moving to take up an appointment in Torquay, and he held his last service in July.

2019: After a vacancy of more than a year, Rev’d Tom Fish was licenced as Team Vicar in September.

Testimonies

Jack Weaver

I've been attending St Alban's church for nearly 5 years and within that time I've met some fantastic kind caring people. The church has helped me grow in confidence and come closer to the Lord Jesus.  I have loved every minute of being part of St Alban's Church.

I can't wait to see what our Father in heaven has in store for the coming few years.

Lord God I would like to thank each and everyone at St Alban's Church and I pray that the church's doors will be open to everyone who wants to learn more about you, and what you did for our sins.
Christ as a light, Christ as a shield, Christ beside me, on my left and on my right.  Amen 

Rachel Warner

St Albans is very special to me as I was baptised here in 2016.

I have always believed in God but never before have I ever felt as close until joining St Albans. Since being apart of the church I have really started my journey in following the Lord.

St Albans is so welcoming after being baptised my husband and I were blessed with a beautiful little boy and since then we have attended TLC Play group which is absolutely amazing, this is where I have met some lovely life long friends for me and my son.

St Albans offers so much for me and all the community (believers and non believers) joining this church was the best thing I’ve ever done as my church family mean so much to me. 

Thank you St Albans for being with me on my journey.  

Betty Weaver 

We worked hard selling bricks to build our church but we love St Alban's, we have seen some lovely people walk through Its doors and quite a few leave (not of their own accord). We have had some good times, social evenings, beetle drives, quiz nights and the ladies guild.

We have always been happy here at St Alban's, we have always helped each other and always been friends in our worship of our Lord.  Who could ask for a better place than our church St Alban's?

Barry Bishop

MY ROUTE TO ST.ALBANS (or “Yo don’t come from rand ‘ere, do yo?”)

I was born, lived and was educated in Brighton, on the South Coast.  My parents expressed a Christian belief and both my older step-brothers (from my Dad’s first marriage) had been encouraged to join the choir at Brighton Parish Church - St Peter’s - which was pretty much the size of a cathedral.  At the appropriate age, I also joined the choir (fortunately I could sing!) and this started me on my journey to Christ. I was trained under the auspices of the Royal School of Church Music, to which our church was affiliated and went on to become Head Chorister.  This was a great and fun time, particularly as St Peter’s typically would have 6-8 marriages every Saturday in the summer, for which we were paid and also had unlimited ice cream from Di Marco’s opposite between ceremonies!!   St Peter’s, due to its size, was also a firm favourite of the BBC and we featured on several Radio & TV services.  We were paid even more for this!

In due time, after my voice broke, I moved onto Scouts and a Grammar School education, and God probably did not figure in the life for quite some time.  However He did pop up from time to time, and when I met my first girlfriend her father was a Baptist Minister so (maybe reluctantly?) I was back at church on Sundays for a while.

After school, I worked for the Alliance Building Society at their H/O in Brighton and there I met my future wife Kathy. We had great times scootering (at the time of mods & rockers riots in Brighton!) ice skating & dancing, and then married and moved to Mid-Sussex.  We had 2 boys by the time I was 25 and, apart from Baptisms, Weddings etc, did not attend church. Kathy and I were both scout-leaders and frankly this & the boys took up most of our time outside work.

When my boys were around 10 & 12, they were invited to a Holiday Bible Club at Burgess Hill Baptist Church, and at the end of the week we were invited to a service.  The boys, being so enthusiastic, made us both realise something was missing and we soon gave our lives to the Lord.

A couple of years later, I was asked by my then employer to move to the Midlands to establish an office & manage a larger sales force.  My family were reluctant, but terms were simple; we must find a great church, a great school and an A.T.C. for my eldest as he wanted to join the RAF (at the time!).  After much searching we found all these in Malvern, adding to the list perhaps the most beautiful part of the country to live! Initially we worshipped at a Free Church (as the Baptist Church was sadly too old-fashioned and didn’t welcome children) then moved on to St Andrews – a charismatic and evangelical C of E with a great modern musical reputation.  I was soon singing again in a large music group with keyboard, drums, electric and acoustic guitars, flute and violin.  My walk with the Lord was all but perfect.

Sadly, 15 years later, at the age of 52, my wife Kathy died of cancer. My main-stay and support was the church. My faith was certainly rocked but prayer saw me thru’ the black days.

In 2002, I was ‘persuaded’ to attend Spring Harvest at Minehead, and whilst there I picked up a magazine which had details of a Christian dating agency. With some trepidation I ‘jumped in feet-first’ and found Mandy, who was then a churchwarden in Short Heath. To cut a long story short - we met, got on fantastically, and married in St Andrew's in 2003.  Because of Mandy having a 12yr-old at the time, I (reluctantly) agreed to move to Walsall.  The one proviso was that we retained a base in Malvern so after selling up we bought a house here on Coppice Farm and a flat in Malvern.  For the next 12 years we spent weekdays working here and weekends in Malvern, so could continue to worship at St Andrew's.  Ultimately though, this ‘peripatetic’ life became too difficult to sustain; I had to give up my beloved music group because I could not guarantee to be there for practices Friday night and we felt the Lord was leading us elsewhere.

We had attended St.Alban's a few times whilst having our ‘dual-life’ and always felt comfortable there.  I could not face going back to a more ‘traditional’ Anglican church and found St.Alban's to have just the right mixture of old and new (even the people!!) and always felt very welcome, so in 2015 we sold up in Malvern and took that ‘leap of faith’ to immerse ourselves fully into the St.Alban's family.  The Lord has been good to us and sustained us both through difficult times, particularly with Mandy’s health issues, and the prayers and support from our church family have been fantastic.

Finally, why the bracketed heading for this piece.  During my first few years in this area, people – hearing my Southern accent- seemed to forever be asking why I would give up an area like Malvern to move to the Black Country.  My answer then, as now, is simple; The love of a good woman, the love of God and of His people.

Memorial Garden

The Memorial Garden at the back of the church is an attractive secluded area ideal for quiet reflection and prayer. It is consecrated for the burial of ashes, and loved ones can also be remembered with a plaque and an entry in the Memorial Book in church. To arrange for a burial of ashes or an entry in the Memorial Book, please contact the Vicar. 

Family members often bring flowers in memory of loved ones, and we provide a range of vases for these to be put in. 

All Souls Day service 

Around All Souls Day (1st November), we hold a service in memory of all the departed, to which we invite family members of all in the parish who have died recently. It is a quiet and moving occasion, much valued by all who come. 

Covid-19: Garden still open

Even during lockdown, the Memorial Garden is open as usual, 9am to 4.30pm daily.  You are welcome to visit to tend to memorials, or for private prayer.  There are several benches around the Memorial Garden and Garden of Remembrance.  We ask that you observe distancing guidelines.  

Remembrance Garden

Round the corner from the Memorial Garden is the Remembrance Garden, created by students at Coppice School as a place to reflect on the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces.

On Remembrance Sunday we gather there to join in the 2 minutes silence and play the Last Post. Those who have lost loved ones in action are invited to add their names to the display.