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Honour proves there are no boundaries to a Minister's work

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He's a Methodist Minister who is just as comfortable helping people in a hospital or prison as he is within a church building.

The Rev. Tony Buglass believes "we can't keep God in a box" and has made it his mission to take his work into a variety of different environments.

The retired clergyman, who remains active as a Supernumerary Minister within the Tynedale Methodist Circuit, was recently acknowledged for another of his out-of-church commitments.

Tony received the prestigious Certificate of Meritorious Service, presented by the Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy, in a virtual ceremony which was streamed online.

The honour acknowledged Tony's commitment to working with cadets since 1994, and in particular, the way in which he has continued to fulfil his role as Hexham ATC squadron chaplain during the pandemic.

Tony continued to maintain contact with the squadron despite the challenges posed by three lockdowns.

This has included creative use of the Squadron's Facebook page to post quizzes, jokes, and the occasional padre's message to maintain vital links with the cadets.

"I was astonished to be nominated," he said. "I felt I was doing very little which was 'special' or 'extra'.

"However, when they set it in the context of over 25 years of steady service, it made more sense. I feel that in many ways I am a representative of so many other chaplains and volunteers, and accepting the honour on behalf of so many."

A former cadet with a love of aeroplanes, Tony shares much in common with the youngsters and has taken the opportunity to fly with them, and even experienced aerobatics.

Speaking about working in different environments away from the church, Tony said: "We can't keep God in a box, we need to be out there where he is. Being in the real world of work or hospital means being where people and their needs are most clear, and helping them to meet those needs is at the heart of Christian faith.

"Jesus didn't stay in the synagogue, he got out there where people needed him, even when they had no idea they needed him. It is good to be where people are, and see God at work in relationships and real life."

Tony, who has also helped with services at Hexham's Carntyne Residential Care Home, remains active within the community.

He writes and records regular contributions to the Tynedale Talking Magazine. An avid singer, he performs with Tynedale Community Choir, Charlie's Choir, and the Hexham Abbey Festival Choir.

Tony is a volunteer driver for West Northumberland Food Bank, picking up donations from various supermarkets and delivering food to families all over the area.

He added: "I do love being part of such a wonderful team of workers and volunteers, I am delighted to be able to help those who need it most – although I have often said it is the one job which I would dearly love to become redundant, in the proper sense of 'not needed'".

Tony began his Methodist ministry in his native North Tyneside, followed by Amble, coming to Corbridge in 1992. These appointments included work as hospital and prison chaplain. He served in North and West Yorkshire before retiring back to Hexham.

His preaching and teaching has taken him to many places, including Estonia. Tony says people are very kind, they don't let him get bored!

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