Keeping the faith

Reverend Eddie Wynn MBE has been appointed as the University of Wolverhampton’s Senior Chaplain. His predecessor, The Reverend Prebendary Geoffrey Wynne, retired in 2010 after a record breaking 44 years at Wolverhampton.

Eddie joins the University after serving in the Royal Air Force, where he received an MBE in 2011 for his work among the injured and bereaved at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

He joined the RAF chaplain’s branch in 2004 and has served at RAF Marham, RAF Conningsby, the Royal Centre for Medicine in Birmingham, Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and RAF Halton. Rev Wynn trained part-time on the Northern Ordination course in Manchester from 1998 to 2001 and he was then appointed curate to the parishes of Emley and Flockton in West Yorkshire.

He also worked as part-time Chaplain at New Hall Prison and at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. In 2002 Eddie received an MA in Theology and Religious Studies from the College of York St John. 

1. How do you feel about being appointed as University chaplain?

It is quite exciting - Wolverhampton is such a vibrant and energetic place, I am really looking forward to working with the students and staff of the University but also networking across the city. I hope to be here a long time but aged 46 I will have little chance of beating Geoffrey’s 44-year record as Chaplain!

2. What are you looking forward to most about the role?

Engaging with the students and working closely with the Students’ Union, and getting to know what makes them tick. I’ve worked with the traditional age group of students before, as the new recruits in the RAF are often 18 or 19, so I’m not unused to them!

3. What do you think are the key challenges?

Getting to know people. It is a very diverse city, and I’m keen to get to know individuals and groups across the city and how they interact. In addition, like all higher education (HE) institutions, the University is facing funding constraints and it is about how we deal with that.

One of the impressive things is how long people have worked at the University – there are some who have worked here for 25 years, but many are uncertain about the future, so chaplaincy support can be given for staff as well as students.

4. What other environments have you worked in as a minister?

Before I was ordained in 2001, I spent 18 years as a critical care nurse, which involved working with people facing stress and bereavement. I was ordained in West Yorkshire and worked in two small parishes in the Wakefield diocese, before spending eight years with the RAF.

I worked at Selly Oak Hospital and received the MBE, although I see this as recognising other people’s efforts too. I also spent time in Afghanistan at Camp Bastion last year, working with the injured and the medical emergency response teams who go out and get the injured from all sides.

5. How do you think your former role as an RAF chaplain will help in your new role?

They both involve working within teams. I worked within a big team in the RAF, and here I will be part of the Chaplaincy team and the wider community of the University. Within a parish, the majority of people share your faith.

But here, we will be engaging with people who may not share our faith or have no faith. We are living in a more secular society but the Chaplaincy has a role to play with people who have no faith.

6. What are your best or most striking memories of your time with the RAF?

I think they varied from very sad occasions to great team building experiences. The role could involve sitting at the bedside of a young lad who was dying, and being part of poignant moments of remembrance and sorrow for people, or being involved in retrieving casualties.

But also there were times when we were out on exercise and it was like having your own massive train set to play with! I’m hoping to continue those links through the RAF reserves.

7. The role of the Chaplaincy is to provide support and help to students and staff from a range of faiths - what do you think are the key priorities for this and how do you think we can best achieve them?

The key priorities are finding out which faith groups people come from and seeing if we have gaps in our provision.

There is a large Sikh presence in the University and the city, but we don’t have a Sikh chaplain at the moment so we will be looking into that.

Although I am a Christian, the Chaplaincy team view themselves as University of Wolverhampton chaplains who are here for everybody.

8. If you were at university today, what would you study?

I think Politics, because it is about people and their daily lives and what really matters to them. The political agenda is about what helps and hurts people – I find Politics fascinating.

9. Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party?

I think the Archbishop of Canterbury, because I would like to sit him down with Richard Dawkins and watch the debate evolve. But I’d also like to have Rowan Atkinson to add that comedic value as well.

10. What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a musician – I play the tuba. I also like cycling and running, and have completed three London Marathons. For the last marathon I ran in robes and had a sign on my back saying ‘I really am a vicar’ as there were so many people dressed as nuns and priests!