The ministry team is made up of the Rector and lay people. Running the Sunday services is a big part of the ministry of the church and services are led by the Rector, the Licensed Lay Ministers and the Lay Worship Leaders. The wider pastoral work is covered by the Rector and the Lay Pastoral Assistants. The team, as a whole, aims to be the visible and accessible face of the church in the wider community. We are involved in our local schools, social clubs, community groups, care homes (and the pubs!).

The Rector

The Rector

Rev’d Lydia Cook

Lydia spent 5 years training for ministry at Oxford and was ordained in 1996. Rural ministry has been her sole focus throughout her ordained life and she has worked in the Dioceses of Peterborough and Oxford and moved to Salisbury Diocese 15 years ago.

Lydia has worked as a parish priest, a school chaplain and as a self-supporting minister, meaning that she has combined parish ministry with secular work. She has done a variety of jobs including being a cook, running a pre-school and being a smallholder.

Lydia is  Chair of the Diocesan House of Clergy, the Rural Dean of the Blackmore Vale and lives at Shillingstone Rectory with her husband and two cats.


Licensed Lay Ministers (LLM) is a nationally recognised ministry – people are discerned and trained in accordance with national guidelines and can be licensed to exercise their ministry anywhere in the country.

In the Diocese of Salisbury, we have a commissioned lay ministry called Lay Worship Leader (LWL). This ministry is exercised collaboratively in a ministry team under the supervision of the incumbent.

LLMs and LWLs can lead Services of the Word (not Holy Communion) and LLMs can also preach. All lay ministers do more than just lead worship on a Sunday; they work to encourage people in their faith, knowledge of the Bible and in prayer throughout the week as well.

Mr Mark Riley

Mark Riley

Mark is married to Debbie and they have two daughters and a son.  They moved to Child Okeford from the Black Country (West Midlands), in 1998 and became active members of St Nicholas Church.

Mark completed three years Lay Minister training and was licensed at Salisbury Cathedral in 2004.  He ministered in the Okeford Benefice till 2009, then transferred to Blandford Parish Church before returning to the Okeford Benefice in April 2018.

Mark’s main interest has always been the Church and the desire to encourage everyone to explore the Christian faith and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Mrs Abi Rudd

Lay Pastoral Assistant

Abi moved to Child Okeford 8 years ago. As a mother of 2 she was quickly welcomed into the Messy Church family and is now one of the Messy Church leaders. Busy with family, school and church life, Abi was surprised at the journey God has called her on. Having been on the LPA training, Abi then moved on to doing the Lay Worship Leader course. She now leads worship across the benefice.

Abi has put her heart into supporting the ministry team and parishioners in the challenges and blessings we share in our lives today.

Lay Pastoral Assistants

Lay Pastoral Assistants engage in the ministry of care, hospitality, practical help and sometimes the discernment of ongoing, more in depth care for people. The foundation of pastoral care is listening and lay pastoral assistants engage deliberately and intentionally in listening to others. They share in the daily prayer life of the church.

LPAs assist the Rector in the provision of pastoral care to the whole parish. The cure of souls assigned to the Rector is then shared with others, providing a better level of care.

Mrs Carolyn Angelucci

Lay Pastoral Assistant

Carolyn moved from London to Dorset 8 years ago. When she lived in London she worked in the banking sector. She has been an LPA for 6 years and lives in Child Okeford with her husband Simon.

Mrs Ruth Allen

Lay Pastoral Assistant

Ruth and her husband Keith moved into Child Okeford in 2013 and Ruth retired shortly after that. She had been very involved in her previous church and very quickly became involved at St Nicholas. Church life is important to Ruth and she is very aware that there are many folk who need Christian comfort. Becoming an LPA is a way of showing God’s love for us all.