Raymond John Ross was Rector from 1972 until 1995 and so is very well-remembered by most of the church people of Newbold.
He was educated at Radley College in Berkshire and at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Having served a curacy in Bristol he became Priest-in-charge and later the first Vicar of Hobs Moat, Solihull, in the Diocese of Birmingham. His ministry in Newbold was during twenty-three years of great social change :
Raymond Ross had little previous knowledge of Derbyshire, but he had experience of Church life in a growing and newly established housing area during his 14 years in Solihull where a new church building was planned and built in his time, together with a growing congregation. The need for St.Mary’s, by its very size and opportunities, to be a suitable parish for the training of deacons, had been accepted.
The new Rector came to Newbold with the Bishop’s assurance that for the foreseeable future assistant clergy could certainly be expected and obtained. This continued for the next 23 years, and apart from times of departures and new appointments awaited, two assistants were regularly welcomed and in post. On three occasions groups of ordinands were sent from their theological college for parish placements, and twice the Church Army provided Sisters for Children’s Missions.
One of the new Rector’s first tasks, alongside the PCC, was to introduce the new revised forms of service for the Parish Communion, proposed by the Church of England. In the event he was loyally supported by the congregation. Fresh opportunities for the spiritual life of the church were introduced and developed.
In the church building itself, members of the choir came to be seated in choir stalls in the nave, and the ladies were robed. A new organ (1992), the console of which was placed downstairs into the south aisle, the choir vestry slightly altered, and a new Parish Room, extended off the church, was built as seemed appropriate for the requirements of those years.
Outside, the Churchyard, largely due to excellent administrative arrangements of past years, continued to be important in the life of the Newbold community. The only real change made in this department during the last quarter of the century, was to tackle its probable financial burden to the Church congregation – in fact changes were made to ensure that exactly the reverse was true. Eventually when all burial ground was filled, the Churchyard was declared ‘closed’ and responsibility for its upkeep transferred to the Local Authority.
Meanwhile relationships with the Church School continued well – the clergy were regular visitors and the children and staff attended services in the parish church. The use of the Eagle Club continued but after some years had to be revised for the Littlemoor Charity due to the withdrawal of the Local Authority Youth Club. Almost inevitably, the former Church hall (St.Chad’s on Whittington Moor) was sold. It was no longer well-placed for parish activities, and the small congregation loyally accepted the decision. All this was very much part of the routine work of the Rector, Churchwardens and lay leaders. Perhaps as a congregation, the people of St.John’s should have been led to a greater awareness of the needs of the local community, and to their opportunities for a faithful witness in that sphere. But Newbold did not have an obvious community sense of its own, being accepted by many as part of northern Chesterfield. However Newbold Churches Together flourished with enthusiastic support from its three local Churches, and the parish magazine, The Evangelist, continued with a very reasonable circulation.
In many areas of both secular and church life, changes continued during the second half of the 20th century. Much of the congregation’s stability during these years was due to the loyalty, faith and fellowship of many members. The Church was blessed by a faithful succession of assistant clergy, non-stipendiary priests, Churchwardens and Treasurers, together with devoted organists and vergers. This remarkable record helps to account for the smooth ordering of the church building itself, and continues to this day.
He retired to Leicestershire, having lived for some years in Belper, and passed away on 4th September 2015, aged 87 years.