Bishop's fact-finding visit to learn about Catterick Garrison expansion plans

With the main presence of the British Army in the north of England falling in the Ripon Episcopal Area, Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, the Area Bishop of Ripon, has been visiting Catterick Garrison to see their work with schoolchildren and to meet the chaplaincy team.

Catterick Garrison is set to expand with the number of military personnel based permanently in the town is expected to increase to around 8,400 by 2030, alongside a similar increase in the families of military personnel. It will make Catterick the third largest town in North Yorkshire (behind Harrogate and Scarborough).

“Because the Ripon Episcopal Area includes what is the main Army presence in the North, and is set to grow,” said Bishop Helen-Ann, “it is important for me to build relationships and links, and to so in an informed way.  It’s all part of my ‘feet on the ground’ getting to know the Episcopal Area and Diocese.”

Her visit was at the invitation of Lt Col Alex Bennett who is in charge of Army Chaplaincy in the north of England, based at Catterick.  She toured the Garrison, meeting with Lt Col Joe Jordan, Commander of Catterick Garrison who outlined the planned growth for the Garrison over the next 15 years. 

Lunch was with a number of the Chaplains who minister to the Garrison, along with Col Andy Hadfield, deputy commander of the Fourth Infantry Brigade,  and Col Peter Stitt, Commandant of the School of Infantry. “[It was an] excellent lunch and conversation with the Commanding Officers and Military Chaplains of Catterick Garrison, at the Infantry Training Headquarters."

A highlight of the visit was to see the army’s ‘Super Camp’ programme working with children in Bradford. “The photo (above) shows me with the group from the One in a Million Academy school in Bradford; it’s part of the Army outreach into communities to strengthen links and break down some of the misconceptions about what the Army does. 

“The Camp also teaches young people (aged 14-16) important skills in team building and leadership. [It was] fantastic to see pupils tackling the army assault course as part of their Super Camp!”

Bishop Helen-Ann said she was “grateful for the outstanding hospitality and welcome” she received.

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