Revd Vanessa Conant, Rector

Former Bishop of Chelmsford and now Archbishop of York, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, with Revd Vanessa Conant

In July 2015, Vanessa Conant was installed as the first female Rector of St Mary’s and the Parish of Walthamstow. Originally from Hertfordshire, Vanessa earned a BA in History from Lancaster University, worked for several years as a fundraiser for both Crisis and Christian Aid, and later earned a BA in Theology from Trinity College, Bristol, where she trained for ministry. Vanessa was ordained a priest at St Alban’s Cathedral and served her curacy at St Catherine and St Paul, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, before becoming Associate Rector of St Paul’s and St George’s (‘Ps & Gs’) in the city centre of Edinburgh, where she served for four years. Vanessa has a keen interest in the Bible, in Christian social action, inclusion, environmentalism, Judaism, practical theology, community organising and contemplative spirituality. Vanessa is a trustee for the Centre for Theology and Community in Shadwell. A gifted teacher, Vanessa loves to see people grow in their understanding of faith. She is married to Cameron, a writer and comms officer. (

Revd Dave Edmondson, Curate

Revd Dave Edmondson started his curacy at St Mary’s in July 2020

Dave Edmondson began his curacy at St Mary’s in July 2020 after training for ministry at Trinity College, Bristol. Dave was born in South London and grew up in Epsom. Before training for ordained ministry, he was a youth and children’s leader at St Mary’s, Becontree, in Dagenham, East London, and before that, worked with Christian youth charity XLP while studying for his BA at St Mellitus. Dave is passionate about seeing people of all ages come to know the reality that they are loved by God, and he believes that the Christian faith is not just for Sundays, but a transformative way of living. Dave is married to Caitlin, an RE teacher, and they have a daughter, Lydia, and a son, Josiah. Dave enjoys getting outdoors, cooking, eating, and playing and watching sports. A big cricket and football fan, Dave is always up for a conversation about sport. (

Revd Alan Moss, Pioneer Leader
Sarah Moss, Ordinand

Revd Alan Moss and Sarah Moss joined our team in the Spring of 2021

Alan and his wife, Sarah, joined us in 2021 after Alan completed his curacy at the Parish of St James and St John’s, Collier Row. Alan will be primarily working on The Drive and Attlee Terrace estates, using the practices of community organising to empower residents to take action on the things that matter to them in order to create positive, meaningful change, and in so doing, help people make the connection between faith and action. Alan will also be connecting new people to St Mary’s alongside developing creative expressions of church. Alan previously planted a church for young people in Romford alongside supporting the Diocese of Chelmsford in its development of digital expressions of church. Alan has a background in welding, a love of tattoos and a passion for sharing the Christian story in new ways. Sarah is a Church of England ordinand at Trinity College, Bristol, but will be based in E17 and involved in our Parish life as part of her training. Sarah has worked for years in Community Development, specifically within Local Government, and is also a musician and worship leader. Sarah will serve across the Parish and will lead on our Waltham Forest Citizens campaign for affordable housing. Alan holds a BA in Youth Ministry and an MA in Christian Leadership from St Mellitus College. ( (

Jacintha Danaswamy, Ordinand

Jacintha Danaswamy is St Mary’s Ordinand, and is currently doing her theological training at St Mellitus

Jacintha Danaswamy is training for ordination in the Church of England at St Mellitus in London while also serving as St Mary’s ordinand. Jacintha’s primary role at St Mary’s is to oversee our Church Growth Project, which aims to help us expand our church engagement with the wider community, to grow as disciples, to grow our church and to deepen our commitment. Jacintha has also been actively involved in our children’s ministry work in recent years, helping to lead all-age services, and previously served as our administrator. Jacintha has a BA in English Literature and Spanish, and an MA in Visual Culture, both from the University of Westminster, is a fluent Spanish speaker and is originally from Ireland. Jacintha is mum to Clara, Violet and Jade and has a family connection to St Mary’s, with her father, Dr Paul Danaswamy, having been a much-loved member of our church for many years. Jacintha loves to read, visit exhibitions, listen to live music and explore the outdoors with her daughters. (

Charnelle Barclay, Community Organiser & Church Planter

Charnelle Barclay first joined us as a Buxton Intern in 2019; since then, she has become our Community Organiser/ Church Planter

Charnelle Barclay came to St Mary’s as our Buxton Intern in 2019 and we haven’t let her go! Charnelle now serves as a Community Organiser and Church Planter, working with Revd Alan Moss and supervising a community organising intern to build community and help residents on the Attlee Terrace and Drive estates take action on the things that matter to them. Originally from Gloucester, Charnelle has a degree in Politics and International Studies from the University of Warwick and also works part-time for the Centre for Theology and Community, overseeing CTC’s William Seymour Programme, which trains Pentecostal churches in the practices of community organising. She is passionate about a holistic faith that not only cares for others but also stands up to unjust structures and systems. Charnelle loves dancing and is currently learning flamenco. (

Dr Emma Miles, Community Engagement Officer

Dr Emma Miles will help lead on our community education and activities as part of our Creative Church project

Emma is our Community Engagement officer, a new role funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of St Mary’s ‘Creative Church’ regeneration project, which will begin in Autumn 2021. Emma has a PhD in theatre from Royal Holloway and is a senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. Prior to joining St Mary’s, Emma was the Learning Manager for Families, Schools and Communities at the Sir John Soane’s Museum. She has a master’s in Education from the University of Cambridge, a PGCE from Cambridge in Primary Education and a BA (hons) from the University of York in English Literature. St Mary’s has been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to restore and re-order our 900-year old building and to enable thousands of people to explore the heritage and history of St Mary’s; Emma will help us implement this exciting vision by working with local partners, volunteers and stakeholders to deliver the community-based activities that will complement the construction programme and support engagement and learning. Originally from Nottingham, Emma enjoys nature and long-distance walking. She has walked the Yorkshire Way as well as a five-week section of the Camino de Santiago. (

Tim Hewitt, Head Gardener/ Community Gardener

Tim Hewitt is our Head Gardener; he took on an expanded Community Gardener role in 2021 thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which allows us to employ Tim for three days per week.

Tim Hewitt has been St Mary’s Head Gardener since 2017; in that time, St Mary’s Churchyard has received national recognition from the Royal Horticultural Society, and through Tim’s successful ‘Burials in Bloom’ project, dozens of local residents now regularly volunteer to care for neglected graves and engage in biodiversity projects in our churchyard, the largest green space in Walthamstow Village. In Spring 2021, Tim also became St Mary’s Community Gardener – a newly-created position supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of St Mary’s £3.37 million ‘Creative Church’ regeneration project. As part of this role, Tim will introduce new opportunities for residents – especially under-represented groups – to learn about horticulture and to engage in community gardening projects in the churchyard. Prior to studying at Capel Manor and becoming a professional gardener, Tim taught English for nearly 20 years at Forest School, his alma mater. Tim is a Board Member for Forest Flora, which supports community horticulture in Waltham Forest, is a Committee Member of Walthamstow’s Chelsea Fringe Festival, and works closely with many local gardening and community groups. (

Fiona Fouhy, Parish Administrator

Fiona Fouhy is a practising visual artist and our Parish Administrator

Fiona became our administrator in 2020 and handles almost everything imaginable, from building hires to questions about baptisms and weddings. Originally from Kingston-upon-Thames, Fiona lived in Hackney for 12 years before moving to Walthamstow in 2019. A talented visual artist, Fiona studied Fine Art at Central St Martins and Art History at the University of Manchester. Fiona is a mum of three and balances family and church work with her artistic practice based at East London Printmakers Studio in Mile End. Fiona loves reading, museums, visiting Margate and wandering in Epping Forest. (

Jonathan Rathbone, Musical Director

Jonathan Rathbone’s arrangements have been recorded by Trinity College, Cambridge and Voces8

Jonathan Rathbone has been St Mary’s musical director for many years. He got his start as a chorister at Coventry Cathedral and was later a choral scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he read mathematics. He later studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Jonathan sang with the Swingle Singers for 12 years and was the group’s musical director for eight of those years. He left the group in 1996 to focus on writing, and has since arranged pieces that have been recorded by Trinity College, Cambridge, Voces8 and other well-known choral groups. Jonathan has also written for film and television, but continues to conduct community choirs around London and continues to faithfully serve at St Mary’s, his local parish church. Jonathan is married to Helen, a singer and music teacher, and they have two grown children. (

Sue Peacham, CAP Debt Centre Manager

Sue Peacham became St Mary’s Debt Centre Manager in December 2018

Sue Peacham has led St Mary’s Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Centre since December 2018. Sue took the role after having worked as a teacher at Kelmscott School in Walthamstow for five years; prior to that, Sue worked in the IT industry, first for the Civil Service, and later, for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Sue and her husband Tony have lived in Walthamstow since 1989 and have four grown children. Sue is also an avid sailor and has been a member of a sailing club since she was a child. Since its inception in 2010, St Mary’s Debt Centre has worked with over 500 people, offering free advice and help. In that time, over 100 people have gone debt-free. (