Shrewsbury Abbey

Who’s Who

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The Vicar of Shrewsbury Abbey and St. Peter’s Church is Rev Paul Firmin.

Paul is married to Dianna, they have two children and two grand children. Paul was a retail banker (Barclays in London & France) before going to Trinity College in Bristol.

His church interests include Christian Spirituality, and he has completed a Masters Degree (via Sarum College in Salisbury) with a dissertation on Benedictine Spirituality.Outside interests include woodwork, reading history and playing music (but not very well!).

Church Wardens

The Church Wardens are Mr Kenneth Poulter and Mrs Anne Gudgin.

Ken says of himself:

I was brought up as a Methodist, but in the early 70’s I began going to Church of England, following a move from Wellington to Shrewsbury.

I have always been involved in Music, especially choral and Church music.

My working life was mainly spent in the Health service, and I have worked at most of the Hospitals in the County, taking a great interest in my professional organisation, where I was privileged to be presented with a fellowship.

In my spare time I am a volunteer with the National Trust, and I steward at the Shrewsbury Flower Show. I very much enjoy going on holiday, gardening, watching sport, and going to concerts. (I am a big fan of Barbara Dickson). I really enjoy life.

Anne says of herself:

I was born in Manchester in May 1940. After college I taught in Bradford, Tottenham and the The Royal Schools for the Deaf in Cheshire.

Married in 1965 – two boys, five grandchildren and a great grandchild. The eldest son lives in the USA and the younger in Derbyshire.

We lived in Malta for three years and a return to England lived in Stockport for 26 year. My husband contracted multiple schelrosis and had to stop work. I continued to teach at the Royal Schools gaining qualifications in Sign Language and being appointed outdoor pursuits organiser learning climbing, caving and canoeing. However the students enrolling began to have disabilities beyond deafness; paraplegic, qaudriplegic and severely neurally disabled. Eventually after two broken noses, several bites, head butts and broken ribs I decided it was time to take early retirement.

My husband was delighted. ‘Oh good, we can move to Shropshire!’ ‘No way!’ said I, we had to move further away but how wrong I was. We moved to Hodnet in 1997, joined the Church and various village activities and were most happy and contented. I became a volunteer at the Abbey in 1998 and we eventually came to worship at St Peter’s Church Monkmoor. I felt the need to become more involved in Church affairs but my husband needed 24-hour care. After his death in 2011 I was drawn more and more to get involved as so many people had given me help and support both before and after he died.

So, here I am, a Church Warden. A complete novice but a willing learner. There will be pressures ahead but perhaps, God will, my sense of humour may help.


Director of Music – Mr Peter Smith

Peter was born in Nottingham, and moved to Shropshire at a very young age.

Peter started singing in various church choirs run by his father, before becoming head chorister at St Andrews Church Shifnal, under the direction of Peter Richards. Further singing experience was gained as a counter-tenor at St Peters Church Wolverhampton, working with Andrew Newberry. Peter was to return to Shifnal briefly as assistant choirmaster before moving to St Mary Magdalene Albrighton as Choirmaster.

After a successful 7 years Peter moved to Cardiff to study music and education, where he gained a BA (Hons). During this time, Peter sang at the University church of St Teilo in Cathays, and also as a counter-tenor lay clerk at Llandaff Cathedral under Dr Michael Smith. Peter also sang at the Birmingham Oratory under the direction of the late Richard Hoban.

On returning from Wales, Peter took an appointment as Director of Music at All Saints Parish Church, Royal Leamington Spa, helping to maintain the “Cathedral” choral tradition.

For the last twelve years, Peter has been director of St Marys Ecumenical Choir, which is based in Shropshire, but attracts singers from all over the country and further afield. The choir deputises in Cathedrals during holiday periods.

When not at the Abbey, Peters other interests include travel, cooking, and steam railways. An enjoyment of Real Ale is usually fulfilled after choir practice.

Associate Director of Music is Mr Nigel Pursey.

Nigel’s first appointment as a church organist was when he was 15, after his voice broke. That was many years and several posts of Organist & Choirmaster ago, but he still loves playing the organ (whether as a recitalist or accompanist) and, now that he has retired from full time work, has more time to work on additions to his repertoire. He has been playing regularly in the Abbey since around 2000, and in that time has seen a gradual deterioration in the condition of the fine William Hill organ, so has been much involved in working up a scheme for its renovation and completion, which he still hopes to see happen before his playing fingers finally give up!

Acting Director of Music is Mr Paul Watson

Originally from Essex, Paul was educated at the Colchester Royal Grammar School, where his musical interests were first sparked by two great teachers, Colin Nicholson and Tim Torry. He has previously worshipped in and worked for the United Reformed Church in Colchester, Cardiff (where he completed his BMus degree, studying organ under Robert Court) and also for the Hungarian Reformed Church in both eastern Hungary and north-western Romania.

He has also held appointments as organist in the Church of St Andrew & St Teilo and in City United Reformed Church (both in Cardiff) as well as, more recently, helping support the worship at Lion Walk United Reformed Church, Colchester. He is currently the Director of Music at All Saints, Baschurch as well as the Acting Director at The Abbey.

His musical interests are in Mediaeval and early Renaissance music as well as relaxing to more modern composers such as Bartók and Shostakovich. As a trombonist, Paul also enjoys playing and listening to a wide variety of Jazz and world music but he also has a nostalgic love for the pop music of the 80s which he grew up with; occasionally he will also secretly admit to enjoying some of the music his teenage daughters currently listen to (but please don’t tell them…).

Paul is proud to be a registered and currently-practicing Social Worker, the majority of his work currently being alongside people with mental health issues. He is married to Lorraine, a qualified teacher who, in addition to her day job also runs the Junior Church at All Saints as well as leading “Music as therapy” sessions for people from ages 0-100. Between them they have somehow managed to unleash four children on the unsuspecting world, the eldest of which is at University and the youngest of which has just started Primary school – all are active musically. They also share a house with four cats (none of whom are in the least musical).

The Abbey Choir

We have an active choir which aspires to Cathedral standards and if you are interested in joining us then please contact Peter Smith on in the first instance. Experience and an ability to read music are desirable but not essential! We would particularly welcome young and teenage voices.

Parish Administrator

Dianna Firmin is the parish administrator and may be contacted on

Gift Shop

The Abbey Gift Shop Manager is Mr Michael Purslow.

Michael has spent a considerable amout of his life in Zambia, where he worked for 25 years at Monterey Printing & Packaging Ltd. Shortly after he retired, he came to work for the Abbey, managing the Gift Shop and volunteers. He has served on several Church Committees over his lifetime, and is currently on the Abbey PCC, as well as being the Secretary of the Guild of St. Winefride.

When not working in the Abbey, Michael is enjoying spending time with his family, reading, listening to country music and watching musicals.

We have Kim Cummings and Christine Poharyskyi representing our cleaning team. The Abbey is supported by many, many volunteers who allow us to open our doors every day of the week. All our guides and stewards are volunteers along with our busy hospitality team. If you’d be interested in volunteering at the Abbey then please contact us by phone, email or pop in! You will be welcomed.