BETWEEN them they have faithfully served Oxfordshire’s Christian community for decades.

On Saturday, six of the Anglican Diocese of Oxford’s clergy were appointed as honorary canons of Christ Church Cathedral.

Their new role marks their distinguished service to the church, and the sextet now have the privilege – and responsibility – of acting as ambassadors for the cathedral, in their parish, life or ministry.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, said: “I’m delighted to acknowledge the ministry of these six people in this way.

“They all bring a great deal to the life and work of the church and it is good to have the opportunity to celebrate their gifts and service.”

The Rev Bruce Gillingham, rector at St Clement’s Church, in Marston Road, Oxford, received the accolade for his ministry as rector and as area dean of Cowley and said he was “honoured and grateful” for the accolade.

For Mr Gillingham, 64, it was a return of sorts, as he studied at Christ Church as a student, and it was there he found his faith.

He has been at St Clement’s for nearly 20 years, and previously worked as a student pastor at St Aldate’s Church in the city centre, and as chaplain at Jesus and St Hugh’s colleges.

He said: “It’s kind of back to roots for me, because it is my home college.

“I am very much looking forward to being an ambassador for the cathedral in the deanery and the diocese.

“I think the parish are pleasantly surprised and they have been kind enough to say they are very happy for me.”

The Rev Judy French will be recognised for her work as vicar of Charlbury with Shorthampton, area dean of Chipping Norton and assistant archdeacon of Oxford.

The 51-year-old said: “I’m really very chuffed. I feel a bit of a fraud, in that a lot of people that I work with are doing a lot of work and I feel I share it with them.

“Without their dedication and all the work they do, I don’t think I would be able to do it.”

Miss French, who was ordained 20 years ago, has spent the past 15 working in Charlbury.

The Rev Richard Hancock is among the more colourful clergymen to receive the honour. Among his interests, Mr Hancock, vicar of Shrivenham and Ashbury and area dean of the Vale of the White Horse, is Vice Gargler of the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers Shrivenham VAT – a charitable organisation which fines members for failing to comply with rules such as drinking with the left hand, then gives the proceeds to charity.

Mr Hancock, 42, is married with two children, Alex, 13, and Ben, 10. He said: “It’s a great honour, particularly as I was born and brought up in the Oxford diocese.

“It has played a key role in my life and development since I was about 17, so I’m really honoured to receive this.”

The former photographer has served his Shrivenham parish for 11 years and as area dean for seven.

The Rev Olivia Graham received the accolade for her role as parish development adviser in the Oxford archdeaconry, and for her work in the field of spirituality.

Mrs Graham, who is married with three children, spent 13 years working in Africa on relief and development programmes, and trained for the ministry in Oxford before being ordained in 1997.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted and quite taken aback really. It’s not something I was expecting.”

Mrs Graham, 55, has worked at Church House in North Hinksey as a parish development officer, helping different parishes to be clear about their tasks and priorities, for four-and-a-half years but spent 16 years working in parish ministry in the diocese before that.

The Rev Peter Ballantine, the team vicar of Stantonbury and Willen in Milton Keynes, and the Rev Rita Ball, team rector of Hermitage and area dean of Newbury, were also installed as honorary canons of the cathedral on Saturday.