Priest’s passion for the open road

Father Nicholas Jennings. Picture by FRANK REID

Father Nicholas Jennings. Picture by FRANK REID

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A MOTORBIKE-LOVING priest hopes to rev up support for the church as he takes over a new parish.

As well as tending to the needs of the community, Father Nicholas Jennings loves nothing more than driving through the countryside on his Suzuki.

Father Nicholas Jennings. Picture by FRANK REID

Father Nicholas Jennings. Picture by FRANK REID

He has helped raise thousands of pounds for charity with the Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group, which last summer saw him complete a 3,700 mile ride through Europe.

Last night, Father Jennings was officially inducted as the new parish priest for St Cuthbert’s Church, in Stockton Road, Hartlepool, and St Mary’s Church, on the Headland.

He said: “I like being out on the open road going through the countryside.

“I haven’t had much chance through the winter, but I’m looking forward to getting out as the weather gets better.”

Father Jennings, 49, has had a passion for motorbikes since he was 18.

Last summer he raised £2,600 for the Great North Air Ambulance service by riding through Europe and back with fellow Boundary 500 biker Graham Carter.

The journey, which took 18 days, saw them motor through Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Belgium.

And in December, he helped raise £900 for the Zoe’s Place baby hospice, in Normanby, by taking part a Santa Ride with the group on Teesside.

Father Jennings, who has been a priest for 20 years, said parishioners have always been supportive of his unusual hobby.

He said: “People are very supportive. People in the Boundary all know I am a priest and quite a few came to my leaving do in Stockton a few months ago.

“Also the parish has raised hundreds of pounds for the charity. To me that just shows how supportive people have been.”

Father Jennings, originally from Manchester, arrived in Hartlepool at the end of last year after leaving St Patrick’s Church, and English Martyrs and St Peter and St Paul Church, in Stockton, after 10 years.

He was welcomed to the community when he was officially inducted at St Cuthbert’s Church last night in a ceremony led by Hartlepool priest Father David Coxon.

Father Jennings added: “I’m looking forward to new challenges in Hartlepool and meeting new people.”