From repairing boilers to rehabilitating youth offenders, church volunteer is the lynchpin of his community

18 August 2018

A Cliddesden man has been nominated by his church for a national volunteering competition after tackling everything from failing boilers to finances and even taking young church vandals under his wing.

“We could not operate without people like Eamonn, every single volunteer is important and valuable, but he is one of those very valuable people,” wrote Stephen Mourant, the Associate Rector of St. Leonard’s Church, in a heartfelt letter of thanks when nominating Eamonn Harding for Ecclesiastical’s ‘Little Deeds, Big Difference’ competition.   
Born in the local hospital and raised in the Cliddesden area, Eamonn has been church warden, and now deputy church warden at St Leonard’s for many years. He has even taken services during periods when the church did not have a resident priest.
On his nomination form, Reverend Stephen highlights one instance in particular when Eamonn shouldered the pressure of challenging situations so the church could continue to serve the local community. Reverend Stephen recounts: “In 2017 Eamonn discovered that the church had been burgled when he visited the vestry to collect money from the safe. He immediately informed us all, met with the police and forensics team, and organised a clear up of the brick work and damage done by the burglars when they prised the safe out of the wall. 
“Just a week after this professional break in, three lads broke in and had climbed into the vestry, causing damage and taking a few small items.”
A local Police officer arranged to meet with Eamonn the next morning to look at the damage, but before they could even convene the 16-year-old boys had returned and climbed into the vestry again but rather than pursue a prosecution the church took a different approach.  
Reverend Stephen explained: “Our choice was not to prosecute them, as if you go before a court and get a criminal record at the age of 16 then your life chances will diminish significantly.”
Instead the boys were asked to write a letter of apology to the church. Eamonn took the boys under his wing and organised community service at the church - polishing its brasses and doing remedial work in its grounds. 
Reverend Stephen added: “The boys were just utterly gutted when faced with the reality of what they had done. Other people would have been much harder on them, but that is not the way of Christ: the Gospel is about mercy. Eamonn’s help to then give them pastoral and spiritual guidance will have no doubt helped steer them away from further trouble. His loving attitude of humility and proactive can-do nature is so refreshing and encouraging, and that is why I heartily recommended him for this volunteering award.”
Churches have until 31 August 2018 to nominate a volunteer. To find out more about this year’s competition, including how to enter, visit