Students inspired by global leader

A CHURCH leader left a lasting impression on students after speaking at an annual lecture in memory of a head teacher.

Hartlepool-born Father Phil Marsh was guest of honour at the town's English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, in Catcote Road, for the annual John Bell Lecture.

The event, which is named after the first headteacher of the school, Canon John Bell, is held every year in the school hall.

Fr Marsh, who is a significant figure in the global Catholic Church, attended the town's St Cuthbert's Primary School from 1957 to 1964, and went on to study at St Francis Grammar School, which merged with English Martyrs School.

He progressed to the Holy Ghost Fathers novitiate in Ireland, before his study took him to London, Belgium, Rome and California.

Around 100 students, staff and parents packed into St Anne's Hall, at the school, to listen to the lecture.

School headteacher Joe Hughes said: "The lecture went very well and Fr Marsh was a very inspirational speaker. The hall was packed and everybody was hanging on his every word.

"He spoke about various aspects of his life and his work, which has taken him all round the world, and his work with the Holy Ghost Fathers.

"Fr Marsh has worked in Africa for around 10 years over two or three spells and it was very interesting to hear about his experiences."

Previous speakers include Ann Widdecombe MP, when she was shadow home secretary and the Duke of Norfolk.

Fr Marsh, who was ordained priest in St Cuthbert's Church, in Stratford Road, Hartlepool, in September 1979, also set up a rural church in Nigeria.

In 2006 he was elected as provincial of the British Province of the Spiritans, the Holy Ghost Fathers.

He is currently serving his second term in office.

Before the lecture got underway members of the school orchestra performed for 20 minutes.

Canon John Bell, who taught at the school for 15-years, died in 1991, aged 74, when he was parish priest at St Joseph's RC Church, in the town's St Paul's Road.