Two collars work perfectly together

Revd Canon Barbara Holbrook has written a book about her life, Revd Holbrook is pictured with guide dog puppy Baggins
Revd Canon Barbara Holbrook has written a book about her life, Revd Holbrook is pictured with guide dog puppy Baggins

The parish priest for Kimberley and Nuthall Barbara Holbrook has put pen to paper to tell the story about not only her life as priest, but also her life as a guide dog puppy trainer – something that works hand in hand with her job, she says.

She said: “In 2004, two things happened that changed my life.

“Firstly, I was ordained and became a Reverend. Secondly, a small bundle of fun – my first guide dog puppy – came into my life.

“Both these events were the start of a new journey of joys and sorrows, making new friends and facing new challenges.

“In both cases my dream was, and still is, to change the lives of others for the better.”

In her book, called ‘I have two dog collars’, Rev Holbrook talks about how getting out about in the community with her guide dogs enables her to meet her parishioners.

The rector, who lives in Kimberley, trains guide dog puppies from just seven weeks’ old, and passes them on for further training at specialist centres when they reach 13 months.

Over the last 13 years she has trained a total of 13 puppies.

“It’s a joy. They are a joy to have around, and I have met lots of people through dog walking,” she said.

“It’s such a huge reward when they go off. It’s sad but you get to hear about how they are getting on, and you can go and see them as a working guide dog with their trainer. You feel like you are changing someone’s life. It’s priceless.”

Rev Holbrook has been the parish priest at churches in Kimberley and Nuthall since 2008.

“Since I was 14 I had the strong feeling that this is what I should be doing,” she said.

But her application was turned down twice when she was in her 20s, so she went on to work in accounting and IT.

She said God was calling her to apply again, and her third application was a success.

Rev Holbrook said it had been an ‘interesting journey’ and her role as church rector was varied.

She spends a lot of time doing talks in school assemblies, meeting people out and about in coffee shops, and doing weddings and funerals.

“It’s being out and about and being visible,” she said.

“I visit different schools, spend time in cafes and shops chatting to people and making friends with people in the community.

“I have wedding rehearsals, funeral visits and preparation, baptisms and I prepare for services and sermons.

“I obviously do Remembrance Day services, carol services. It’s such a patchwork of things,” she said.

A planning application has just gone in for a new wood and glass front door at St Patrick’s Church, and another one has been submitted to convert the church hall at Holy Trinity into two houses.

“We are moving the church community facility in to the main church building, which will be much better,” said the rector.