Stacey, Nick (Part 2 of 5). Pioneers in Charity and Social Welfare
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Interviewee's home, Faversham
Stacey, Nicholas, 1927- (speaker, male)
Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)
Part 2: NS's parents were supportive when they realised he was determined to become ordained. NS had six months on a trawler with fishermen from Hull and became a venereal disease expert. Story of NS discovering that he had great talent as a sprinter. (100 meters and 220 meters). He broke the naval record in 1947 and trained for the 1948 Olympics. [05:06] In October that year he went to St Edmunds Hall Oxford. He enjoyed winning races, the prestige, status, celebrity and travel, but the actual running bored him. He enjoyed the company of Roger Bannister and Christopher Chataway. He did not learn a lot at Oxford. [09:04] He went to Cuddesdon Theological College to learn how to be a priest, and had the great contrast of silence in college and the bustle of training for the 1952 Olympics. Stories. He had extra meat and milk in this continuing time of rationing. There is a great deal of pressure on young sportsmen. [14:30] At the Olympics, he was beaten by black athletes and in the 4x4 relay they came fifth in the final. Then he handed his spikes over and hasn't run a yard since. In athletics you stay at the top or quit. [16:30] Then he took up his first curacy at Portsea, which was the cradle of bishops. There were four Oxbridge curates in the diocese, it was a wonderful team. They spent six hours a day visiting in the lower middle class parish. Stories. [22:30] NS started a tabloid parish magazine. They had 300 at communion and 450 at the evening service. NS was there for five years. [26:00] This was followed by him becoming domestic chaplain to Leonard Wilson the Bishop of Birmingham, where there was a desperate situation with the housing estates and NS saw that a different approach was needed. There was considerable clergy breakdown in Birmingham, which NS contrasts with Portsea. [31:26] NS started the Church Reform Group, saying that the church needed to be reorganised, and clergy formed into teams to support each other, in strong centres. Mervyn Stockwood [MS] had been vicar of Great St Mary's in Cambridge spearheading a religious revival, and he was made Bishop of Southwark, a Thames riverside diocese from London Bridge to Greenwich. He asked John Robinson, Eric James, Bill Skelton and NS to join him. [36:16] Most people who got on, got out of Woolwich at that time, and the area was full of council houses and exploitative landlords. The church building, St Mary's Woolwich, was full of rats, nearly derelict and nothing worked. NS had just done a broadcast for the British Broadcasting Corporation, was in buoyant mood on arrival, but shocked at what he saw. [38:40] In Portsea, the curates had nearly starved and NS got pneumonia. He met Anne Bridgeman during this period, when skiing. She had been intending to take over the family estate near Shrewsbury, but married NS instead, and she has been a wonderful wife for 51 years. They have three children. [41:01] She agreed to the move to Woolwich, and it was the toughest 8 years of their lives.
Interview with social activist Rev. Nicolas Stacey; in this interview Nick discusses competing in the 1952 Olympic Games