THE county’s first female Archdeacon of Wiltshire says she has been bowled over by the welcome she has received in Devizes, where she will be based.

The Ven Ruth Worsley was licensed by the Bishop of Salisbury at St John’s Church in Devizes on Monday night, after having worked in inner city parishes in London and Nottingham. She comes to Wiltshire from a post as parish development officer for the Diocese of Southwark.

Mrs Worsley, 50, who is married to a fellow priest, Howard Worsley, and has three sons, is visiting the congregations on her new patch and is enjoying every moment of it.

She said: “I have never found such welcoming people in all my life.You go into a pub or a shop and people can’t do enough for you.”

Mrs Worsley would not be drawn on whether there would be more amalgamations of team ministries, such as the merging of the Redhorn and Cannings teams last year with one priest in charge of 11 churches, but she was full of admiration for what Wiltshire parishes achieve.

She said: “Coming from inner city parishes, I am used to one priest for one church. The parishes in the inner cities have a lot to learn from rural parishes. It’s about how we can work smarter.

“Wiltshire is pretty well off, being able to draw on the generosity of giving of its congregations.

“You can either look at an issue as a problem or an opportunity, and I’ve always looked on the bright side. It’s the kind of person I am.”

Mrs Worsley was ordained into the Diocese of Southwell and is a former dean of Nottingham North, where she worked from 2006 to 2008, Nottingham South (2008-2010) and Dean of Women’s Ministry (2007-2010).

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Ruth to take up the particular responsibilities associated with being Archdeacon of Wiltshire. She has a welcome blend of parish, deanery and diocesan experience, which is just what we need as we continue to develop our sense of renewal in mission.”