Diocese of Portsmouth

    Ventnor man to return as vicar

    19 Dec. 2023

    IT will be some homecoming when the Rev Tom Burden becomes vicar of Ventnor and Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight.

    Tom grew up in the town and made his lifelong commitment as a Christian in St Catherine’s Church, Ventnor, more than 30 years ago. He is currently the Director of an international school in Jerusalem and says that he has found the only job that would tempt him to return to the UK.

    His father was a well-known builder in the area and he still has family living in the town. Its Botanic Garden is one of his favourite places in the world.

    Earlier this year, Tom became interim Director of the Anglican International School in Jerusalem, where the majority of teachers are Jewish and many of his students are Palestinian. He was there as the horrific conflict broke out in October, and the school has been affected by nearby terrorist attacks.

    He’ll return from Israel to take up his new role as vicar of St Catherine’s and Holy Trinity, Ventnor, and St Boniface, Bonchurch, in March. He’ll succeed the Rev Hugh Wright, who retired earlier this year.

    “I grew up in Ventnor until I went to university at the age of 18,” said Tom. “My mother still lives in our family house in Zig Zag Road – half of the house in my new parish but half isn’t! My father, Keith, was a local builder, my grandfather was a town councillor, and my great-great-grandfather was the town police sergeant.

    “I sang in the choir at St Alban’s Church in Ventnor, which was an important foundation, but my journey as a Christian really began after a teacher invited me to take part in a play at St Catherine’s Church. It was there that I made my commitment to Christ, and so it was the first church I attended as a believer.

    “This is the only parish that would ever have tempted me to come home from Jerusalem – from a job and place I really enjoy. I decided not to stay here in a clerical capacity because I have such a heart for my home town.”

    Tom went to Oxford University and worked as a teacher before becoming headmaster of Hereward House School in north London. He was then headmaster of The Pilgrims’ School in Winchester, whose pupils are choristers at Winchester Cathedral and Quiristers at Winchester College Chapel.

    He was ordained deacon in 2021 and priest in 2022, serving as a curate in Avon Valley Parish, in the New Forest. The various congregations in that parish include those from Evangelical, Catholic and Book of Common Prayer traditions, which gave him good experience in various worship styles.

    “Then I was approached to work in Jerusalem, and I felt called. It happens to have coincided with an extremely challenging period. There have been air raids and terrorist attacks only a few blocks away. Security is very tight.

    “We do genuinely try to bring together all communities here, and it has been an oasis of calm in a turbulent environment. The people here have been amazing, and I could easily have stayed in Jerusalem.

    “Being ordained felt like my destiny, as if it was part of my nature. I’m incredibly excited to be coming back ‘home’ to Ventnor. It so happens that my curacy has prepared me well to minister in Ventnor and Bonchurch, where all traditions are represented. I’m an evangelical, but that certainly does not stop me loving the Book of Common Prayer, liturgy, and choral worship.”

    As a boy, Tom was part of Ventnor Bowling Club, and he hopes to rejoin it on his return. Sport is important to him, and he has been a season-ticket holder for Southampton FC and enjoyed watching cricket at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl. He is a governor at Portsmouth Grammar School.

    Tom will be licensed by Bishop Jonathan at St Catherine’s Church, Ventnor, on March 13.

    St Catherine's

    Church Street Ventnor, PO38 1SW

    More info

    Holy Trinity

    Trinity Road Ventnor, PO38 1NS

    More info

    St Boniface

    Bonchurch Shute, Bonchurch, PO38 1RG

    More info


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