The Parish Team

Canon Neil Kelley – Rector

Fr. Neil has been Rector of St Laurence’s since October 2017 (and Priest in Charge of St. Peter’s, Chorley in 2021) having moved from the Parish of Bushey (Herts). Before Bushey, Fr Neil served the Liverpool Diocese for fifteen years as a Parish Priest, Diocesan Advisor on Liturgy & Worship and member of the Diocesan Church Growth Team.

Fr. Neil is passionate about people engaging with Christ through inclusive worship and daily discipleship. When he’s off duty, he can be found playing the piano (his professional hobby), enjoying time with friends and walking with his black Labrador, Oscar.

Fr. Neil is Assistant Archdeacon (with responsibility for Clergy wellbeing), Diocesan Healing Advisor and, when required, Chaplain to the Mayor of Chorley. He was made an Honorary Canon of Blackburn Cathedral in February 2024.

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Cornelius Asghar – Ordinand (training for priesthood)

Cornelius grew up in the northern part of Pakistan, and has had 20 years of experience in the Education and Development Sector.

The Urban Ministry Course (M:POWER) reintroduced him to God as a loving father through our Saviour Jesus Christ. While serving the Church in Blackpool as an ALM, Cornelius sensed that Jesus was calling him to serve His people in addition to being one of His disciples. As a result, his sense of calling to the ordained ministry changed into a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Cornelius is currently a full-time ordinand at Emmanuel Theological College and his hobbies are cooking (trying new recipes), going around nature walks, reading and chatting with people. 


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Phil Hall – Authorised Lay Minister

Phil Hall has been a member of St. Laurence Church for over 30 years having previously been heavily involved in his church in Bolton. Phil served a total of seven years as churchwarden and is currently part of the pastoral visiting team, with a particular interest in later life ministry.

Phil has three children and eight grandchildren, ages ranging from 22 years old down to the youngest at nine months old. Other than family, Phil is passionate about football and cricket and is a season ticket holder with Chorley Football Club and a member of Chorley Cricket Club. Phil also enjoys brewing his own wine and cider.

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Tony Checker – Authorised Lay Minister

Tony was a commercial electrician and is now an area sales engineer, based in Liverpool. Tony first came to St. Laurence’s in 2011 and in his time here has been a bellringer, Alpha Course leader, PCC member, Altar server, and Eucharistic Minister. Earlier this year Tony became training as an ALM

Tony has two two adult children and in his spare time enjoys woodworking, chess, guitars (music with loud guitars), curry & beer.

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Neal Bennet-Williams – Authorised Lay Minister

 Neal Joined St. Laurence’s in 2020 after attending an Alpha course. He is a Community Ministry Lay Minister. Neal has a passion to work within the Local Community promoting the Bible and our Church.

Neal was in the RAF for a number of years and now works as a Quality Engineer in the Aerospace industry.

Neal likes to spend time with his wife, Sue and Dan the Border Collie. He has a number of hobbies the latest of which is restoring a 38 year old Sinclair C5 Electric car. You may see him around town on it if he’s successful!


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Jackie Gemson – Rector’s P.A.

After studying English at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Jackie worked in Human Resources for Newcastle City Council for many years before moving home to Lancashire. She worked as a P.A. for a Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Lancashire County Council and as an Administrator and P.A. in the Vice-Chancellor’s office at UCLan, before taking a break from work to be a stay at home mum to her two children, Grace and Henry.

She is very happy to be working as the Rector’s P.A. and Deanery Administration Assistant, and enjoys working with Father Neil and for St. Laurence’s Church, particularly as it is her place of worship.

In her spare time, she loves spending quality time with her family, socialising with friends, singing and going to concerts and festivals.  

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Natalie Print – Parish Administrator

Natalie’s working background is mostly in administration, including for a church, in doctors’ surgeries and for an adult education college. Natalie has volunteered in churches for a number of years and is pleased to take up the more formal role of Parish Administrator at St Laurence’s to support the church’s ministry to the people of Chorley.

Natalie is married to Mike and she spends most of her time looking after their three year old daughter. Natalie is involved in Sunday Club and the toddler group at St George’s Church, where Mike is vicar, and enjoys finding time to read, watch boxsets, and meet up with friends.

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Nicola Pilkington – Safeguarding Officer

Nicola has worked in education for over thirteen years and is due to start her first headship in Penwortham in January. Throughout her teaching career, Nicola has worked at four church schools and been the safeguarding lead for the past eight years. It has always been a passion of Nicola’s to share examples from the Bible with her pupils and discuss how Jesus, as our ultimate role model, can help help pupils make good choices.

Nicola lives with her husband Andy and her beautiful, two year old daughter Beatrice, who keeps them both very busy with her ‘good ideas’.

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Alan Winstanley – Director of Music

Alan first began learning the organ at Wigan Parish Church with David Cutter and while in the sixth form at the Deanery High School he was a member of the British Youth Choir. He furthered his studies at London College of Music with Gordon Phillips. He was appointed organist at St Peter’s Notting Hill Gate and after graduating undertook a PGCE at King Alfred’s College, Winchester.  In September 1982 he took up his first teaching post at UpHolland High School. In August of that year Alan was appointed Organist at St. Laurence’s. In 1986 he became Head of Music at Ormskirk Grammar School and in 1996 was promoted to be in charge of the Arts Faculty. The school merged in 2001 with Cross Hall High School to form Ormskirk School.

After 28 years at the school Alan took early retirement in July 2014.  Alan was Conductor of the St Nicholas Singers and for the last thirteen years has been Conductor of the Chorley Choral Society. Alan is a senior examiner for AQA Examination Board for A level music.

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Rachel Gilkes  CAP Debt Centre Manager

and Kitchen Manager

Rachel Gilkes joined St Laurence’s in May 2022 as the ‘Christians Against Poverty’ (CAP) Debt Centre Manager, and also as Kitchen Manager. Rachel’s career has been within the social enterprise and charity sector, and most recently has been providing training & education in hospitality for people with multiple and complex needs, such as mental health issues, homelessness, offending and substance misuse. 

Rachel is on the PCC at St George’s Church, Chorley and sings in the choir. In her spare time she is learning the cornet with Chorley Silver Band, along with her three sons who play cornet, tenor horn and drums! 

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Jill Smith – Project Administrator

Jill began her career working as an IT Consultant after studying for a degree in Information Systems at Leeds University.  In more recent years and to fit in with family life she has worked in part time administrative roles and spent a number of years working at Blackburn Diocese as a HR Administrator.  Jill also has many years service working as a volunteer in local church where she has helped as a youth leader, house group leader, occasional preacher and PCC member to name but a few! She now attends St Saviours church in Bamber Bridge.

Originally growing up in Higher Walton Jill now lives in Whittle- le-Woods with her husband Lee and their three teenage children Lauren, Evie and Luke.  In her spare time she loves gardening, baking, spending time with family and friends and going for long walks with her little dog Rosie!

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Irene Preston – Operations Manager

Irene has just completed her PhD in English language at UCLan, where she had been a student since 2012. After a varied career in catering, clerical and care work, Irene suffered a breakdown but has seen how The Lord used this to change her path to academia.

She is a committed Christian, having been a member of Chorley Street pastors for around 6 years and also heavily involved in activities at Clayton brook Community Church near to where she lived.

Irene has 2 grown-up daughters and 2 teenage grandsons who she likes to spend as much time with as possible. She also loves Lego, travelling and learning languages. 

Irene recently married Vic and they are enjoying making a new home for themselves in Chorley town centre.

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Justin Stretch – Digital Content Manager

Justin was appointed as Digital Content Manager in the Summer of 2020. He is passionate about worship and creating online content that brings glory to God. 

As well as being Digital Content Manager, Justin also sings and plays keyboard for the Worship Band.  In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing and recording worship songs, stroking his cat, blubell, flying his drone and cooking.

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Wardens Team

Alex Barrack (Churchwardens)

Bernard Oakley and Tony Checker (Deputy Churchwardens)

Rob Kelly and David Thistlethwaite (Emeritus Wardens)

all the wardens can be contacted through the Parish Office, 01257 231360

Assisting Clergy

We are very grateful to a number of retired clergy who worship at St. Laurence’s and who provide service cover from time to time. Pictured with the Rector are (l to r) Rev. Mike Hatton, Fr. Robert Moore, Rev. David Ward, Fr. Edmund Strazak and Canon Ken Barrett.

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