THE first woman to be Archdeacon of Wiltshire, the Ven Ruth Worsley, says she has been bowled over by her warm welcome to the county.

Mrs Worsley was licensed by the Bishop of Salisbury at St John’s Church in Devizes on Monday night.

She has previously worked in inner city parishes in London and Nottingham and comes to Wiltshire from a post as parish development officer for the Diocese of Southwark, where she was also a chaplain to the Queen.

Mrs Worsley, 50, is married to a fellow priest, Howard Worsley, and has three sons.

She has now started visiting the congregations in her new patch and said she was enjoying every moment.

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.

However, she was full of admiration for what the county’s parishes achieve.

She said: “Coming from inner city parishes, I am used to one priest for one church. Parishes in the inner cities have a lot to learn from rural parishes. It’s more 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.”

Mrs Worsley was ordained into the Diocese of Southwell and was a dean of Nottingham North from 2006 to 2008, Nottingham South from 2008 to 2010, and Dean of Women’s Ministry between 2007 and 2010.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt 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.”