This chaplaincy has been serving the city centre of Newcastle since 1976 and has changed over the years as the city has changed.

Reverend Mike Hills MBE Royal Navy
Vicar of St. Andrew’s Newcastle and City Centre Chaplain
Mike joined the Chaplaincy team on Sea Sunday 2019 after 21 years as a chaplain with the Royal Navy.  In the Navy, his broad job description was ‘the friend and advisor of all on board’ no matter how they defined themselves, and involved thorough engagement with the public square.

This global, collaborative, ecumenical and inter-faith team ministry required him to be physically fit and emotionally robust. It varied from peripatetic ‘Pioneer’ ministry in teams or individually, with Royal Marine Commando Units, small ships and capital ships at sea; training establishments (teaching and pastoral roles); hospital chaplaincy duties, large Naval Base chaplaincy, schools and youth work, and adult education. During the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, Mike co-ordinated and developed the required pastoral response to service families throughout the UK.  This was acknowledged with the award of MBE. He also developed strategic thinking in a number of other roles; secured funding streams for various building projects and outreach work and then project managed from conception to completion. For example, as Chaplaincy Team Leader at the largest Naval training organisation in Europe (HMS COLLINGWOOD), he re-designed and then implemented the teaching programme of core professional leadership skills to individuals and teams. In every location he has worked ecumenically with parish and cathedral clergy in collaborative pastoral care, and for bespoke and traditional liturgy, becoming the Naval Chaplaincy Service lead for Liturgy.

His parish was widely dispersed, and the pastoral response often driven by world events.  Mike was regularly required to work away from home at a variety of locations in the UK and in pressured environments abroad, on land and at sea.  The challenge was to deliver continuity of pastoral care, spiritual direction, and appropriate worship in a variety of contexts, often at short notice and sometimes with limited resources. Consequently, he developed the ability to learn and adapt quickly, particularly in the fiscal arena of cost capture, prosecution of funding streams, bids, and budget management.

The ’parish’ had an age demographic of 18-65 (although there was engagement with children and veterans), ranged from all faiths and none and represented the whole of British society in microcosm.

Mike is experienced in crafting and leading a wide range of services ranging from grandiose to simple, in or outdoors.  He has delivered large scale civic events involving the co-ordination of military and civilian musicians (such as Mayor Making, Remembrance, Commissioning and Decommissioning of ships, and repatriation services for those who have died while serving overseas) at which Royalty or their representatives, politicians, diplomats, senior clergy and the media were all to be accommodated.  Mike also had a secondary role as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, was part of the strategic planning team for Royal Marines chaplaincy and the Naval Ethics Programme.

His last specific portfolio was weighted towards the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), a community of approximately 2,000 master mariners, together with their families, associated veterans and civil servants. This comprised of 15 large ships (like floating cities with many moving parts) to care for which deployed globally. Some were on routine training tasks, others in war zones, or responding to disaster/humanitarian relief (extracting desperate migrants from the Mediterranean as they try to escape war, not all of whom survive the journey; or more recently delivering targeted disaster relief to Caribbean communities devastated by Hurricanes IRMA, JOSE, and MARIA) where his engagement was with the marginalised, those responding to them, the command chain, and the aid agencies.

Mike carried no rank and therefore no executive authority. The daily benefit of this unique status (the culture allowed him to assume the rank of the person he was talking to) provided many opportunities for considerable influence and ministry across the whole community. Promoting equal concern and respect was paramount.

This flexible ministry required a versatile priest-craft, considerable energy, resilience, humour, and a strong work ethic. All this is underpinned by a strong sacramental root and a well-developed prayer life.

This background has prepared Mike for this current ministry in the City Centre, where he also continues to serve the HMS CALLIOPE (Maritime Reserves) Unit as their chaplain.


2020: CPD Accredited Certificate in Mental Health Awareness (valid for 12 months) Champion Health
2016: ongoing: Harris Manchester College, Oxford University – Farmington Fellowship.
2015: Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) -  Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor. ILM Certified Level 4 and Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Level 6.
2018: and every 3 years: Safeguarding Adults & Child Protection – CPD ‘Educare’ Certified.
2014: Disaster Management International (DMI) – Family Assistant Specialist
2010: Edexel BTEC Level 4 – ‘Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector’
2010: Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) – ‘Coaching and Mentoring Course for Team Leaders and First Line Managers’ – ILM Level 3  
1999: Interdive (HSE) – ‘Diver Medic’
1992: CACDP – British Sign Language (BSL) Level 1
Send email

Michael Bushby
Michael Bushby hails from the North East of England and has spent most of his life in Gateshead. He has been married for 33 years and is a devoted father of two daughters.

During the early 1980's, Michael served as a Police Constable with the Metropolitan Police,  returning to the North East to take up a position with Nexus light rail industry, where he continues to work and serve as Traincrew Instructor and Assessor.

In 2014 he took on the role of area coordinator with ‘Christian Vision for Men’ (CVM), and since 2016 has been CVM’s regional director, which is an expanding ministry enabling him to reach out and transform lives across the North East.

Michael also volunteers as a city centre chaplain in Newcastle and has served in this role since 2008.

Ben Ward
Ben Ward is 33 years old, from Newcastle and has been a valuable part of the City Centre Chaplaincy team since 2016.  With a background in a number of customer service/people orientated settings -  from working in cafes, occupational therapy, and most recently as a call handler for the DWP Pensions department Ben brings some key chaplaincy skills to the team. Ben is also involved with other charitable work. Since 2012 he has continued to serve “Junction 42”(in the prison ministry predominantly around the North East); and as a core member of a missional community called “Connect” (supporting ex-offenders or people struggling with addictions) where he heads up the sound engineering for their worship team, and sometimes joins the team attending prisons to lead chapel services, where his mentoring and leadership skills are fully utilised.

As a volunteer ‘Street Pastor’ for Newcastle, Ben is often seen on the front line - supporting the authorities, door staff looking after the night life, or caring for a range of vulnerable people in the City Centre. This form of chaplaincy also provides support to the homeless either by engaging with them or signposting additional support. Additionally, he helps keep the streets safe by picking up discarded glass bottles, providing flip-flops for females with damaged/lost footwear, or occasionally administering first-aid.

Michelle Small
Michelle Small has lived in Northumberland all her life. She has been married for 30 years and has
two daughters.

After leaving school Michelle joined a Youth Training Scheme, working in Hotel and Catering.
She began her working career in 1984 in an electronics factory, firstly in Bedlington, then in Blyth,
initially working on the shop floor (building circuit boards) and later becoming a trainer. In 2001, she
moved to the accounts department where she was the Bonus and Payroll Administrator. After 23
years Michelle was made redundant due to the factory closure in 2006.

Joining the Chaplaincy team and St Andrew’s Church in November 2006 as Office Manager, she
remains the key ‘first point of contact’ for both the Chaplaincy and St Andrew’s.

Les Heslop
Trainee Chaplain
Les was born within one mile of the river Tyne making him a true 'Geordie' and he has lived all his life in North Tyneside - he has been married for thirty-four years and has a daughter aged thirty-three, a son aged twenty-seven and a West Highland Terrier aged five.

After a part-time job while at school selling shoes (A sole trader?) Les began his adult working life in Newcastle city centre at the Northern Legal Aid Headquarters of the Law Society where he remained for four years before joining the European Design Department of an International company based in North Tyneside.

After twenty-four years Les was made redundant and then spent seven years working part-time in the Tax Credits department of the Civil Service during which time he also worked for NE1 company as a Street Ranger on the streets of Newcastle and in addition qualified as a Newcastle upon Tyne City Guide and a Profesional 'Blue Badge' Guide for the North-East England, specialising in guided tours in the French Language.

In 2011 Les left the Civil Service and began working as a Social Programme Administrator for an International Language School in Newcastle near St. Andrew's Church to which he became a regular visitor.

A decline in International student numbers saw Les leave the Language School after five years and he became a partner in 'Newcastle Tours' before moving into the hospitality industry as a Hotel Concierge for the leading Hotel group in Newcastle and he is also the offical Tour Guide for the Newcastle Theatre Royal.

Les has been interested in Education throughout his life and has been a School Governor, a Learning Representative for the Civil Service and a Trade Union Learning Representative. He is a strong advocate for helping people to develop to their full potential.

Les has organised many events for various charities, helping to establish a parental support group in a local childrens hospital. He spends a lot of time at his allotment garden and studies French each week as part of a group. He also speaks some Spanish and German.

Overall Les would describe himself as being 'Motivated by the Holy Spirit' and a good listener who tries to treat everyone with respect and understanding.

Teresa Cairns
Teresa is an experienced life/oral historian, adult educator and trainer. She started teaching engineering apprentices on Tyneside when there were shipyards & engineering works to employ them.  On moving to London, Teresa  became involved in the Adult Literacy Movement, as an outreach development worker and Basic Skills/Dyslexia Project co-ordinator, teaching in a number of community centres, in Open Learning and in FE Colleges. During her time in East London Teresa worked with a range of hard-to-reach groups: ex-prisoners, substance users, homeless/hostel dwellers, travellers, working with people across ethnicities and cultures, such as the Maternity Alliance, to support advocacy work amongst women.

Moving to Brighton, she worked as a trainer and development/outreach worker for a variety of community organisations and for the OU, then as a tutor & researcher at both Sussex & Brighton universities. She researched community-based learning, citizenship and regeneration issues, and later worked as a freelance researcher/consultant and film maker. As a life historian she co-founded a volunteer Reminiscence collective - Creating Timelines, who facilitated reminiscence workshops with people living in sheltered housing schemes across Brighton and Hove.

Teresa is an advocate for community gardening & food growing/allotments, & is passionate about ensuring we support biodiversity across the city. She is proactive in seeking partnerships to ensure we green our city at every opportunity.

As one of the councillor team for Monument Ward, Teresa holds surgeries at St Andrews and supports the work of Newcastle City Centre Chaplaincy.

How to become a chaplain
Thank you for considering us! After the initial DBS checks, all our chaplains are required to undergo regular internal training and reviews, and to update their skills and competencies as necessary. Please contact the Lead Chaplain directly for more details about the process at