During the interregnum, we have been getting to know some St Giles people a little better with a monthly 30-second interview with a member of our congregation, staff or wider community. As we prepare to welcome our new Rector in early 2021, it seems fitting that the last interview in this series should be with the man himself, Rev. Tom Sander. In addition to answering the usual questions, Tom very kindly agreed to a short interview via Zoom:
Where is home for you?
I’m a Hertfordshire lad born and bred. I grew up in the market town of Hitchin, which is just a few stops up the line from Kings Cross. My family still live there.
What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory is a near death experience. I recall being dangled upside-down and patted heavily on the back to dislodge a two-pence piece. It was Christmas and I think the three year old me had assumed that all coins contained chocolate. I particularly recall seeing the coin fall out of my mouth and land on the very 1970’s green carpet that covered the sitting room in my grandmother’s house.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
My father ran a construction company and so I’d spend quite a lot of time on building sites in my holidays. I loved construction and initially wanted to be an architect. I’ve retained a passion for good architecture and buildings.
What is your favourite time of the year?
Summer, when nights are short and the days are long. I enjoy late evenings with friends in a pub garden and early morning walks out in the countryside to watch the mist lift and the sun appear; happily sometimes the two events run into each other.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
Working in the ladies department at a large high street retailer.
What is your favourite smell?
Damp churches on a warm summers day. I love to cycle and visit the country churches of Norfolk and there is nothing better that stepping out of the sun and crossing an ancient threshold into an empty church.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Cycling from Canterbury to Rome. Among many long-distance cycles I’ve attempted, I think this journey was the most challenging and included scaling the Great St. Bernard Pass and a record 38 degree heat in Rome.
When you’re not at work, where would you most like to be?
On a bike, lost in the lanes of north Norfolk.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Josh O’ Connor (Prince Charles in The Crown), although this is more aspirational than realistic.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To be kind above all else. At the end of 2020 I will have taken over 50 funerals and I’ve had plenty of time to think (rather morbidly) about what people might say about me when I die. I would like to say that ‘he was kind’.