Hello. I am Valerie Tooth, a member of Haughton Methodist Church in Darlington where I am a Steward. I am the current Circuit Meeting Secretary and a newly appointed Circuit Steward so I am on a bit of a learning curve!
I have lived in Darlington all my life. My husband, Stuart, and I are extremely proud parents of Rachel, Graham and David. We are also doting grandparents to Alfie and Luca and feel blessed that they live fairly close to us so we see them regularly and are able to help with childcare. My working life was as a civil servant with the Department for Education (DfE) to which I was recruited in 1969. Fortuitously for me, the Government of the day had recently decided to relocate several hundred jobs from London to Darlington. So, at the tender age of 17 and having decided that A' Levels were not for me, I left school one day and started work the next day. Looking back,
it is hard to believe, but I remained with the DfE continuously for 44 years. Apart from a brief foray into school statistics, I spent the great majority of those years working on the Teachers'Pension Scheme dealing first with casework before moving into policy. You might think that working on pensions was boring but, in actual fact, I found the work interesting and challenging (but I won't
bore you with the details!).
My life-time association with Haughton Methodist Church happened through my mum who became a member at Haughton when the family moved to the area shortly after I was born. My mum had incredible faith, which I envied, and was actively involved in the life of the church in a variety of roles throughout her life. Like many 'life-long' churchgoers, for me, going to Sunday School and attending services etc., was just a normal part of family life, which I did not question. My association with Haughton was strengthened by the fact that Stuart and I were married at thechapel (in 1972) and our three children (and two grandsons) were all baptised at the chapel. Sadly my family are not involved in church life which is a personal challenge.
I was into my mid 40s before I started to think more deeply about faith – and my personal faith.
Again, like many fellow Christians who I speak to, I have not experienced an empowering moment of conversion. But I have experienced 'lightbulb moments' as I have been inspired or challenged by certain Ministers and by talking with fellow Christians and, amongst other things, I have learned
to be grateful for all the good in my life. And, if nothing else, I am coming to understand how I must be open to the Holy Spirit to give me the strength I need to face the challenges that daily life can throw at you. As I continue this journey of faith, I pray daily for the Holy Spirit to help and guide me ... the challenge for me is to listen!