Private Adrian Teare - The paratrooper who was ordained as a priest

 

With his shaven haircut, broken nose and tight t-shirt, Adrian Teare was undoubtedly not the usual candidate to appear before the Bishops’ Advisory Panel.

Just hours out of an exhausting army exercise, the Parachute Regiment soldier was there to convince the church luminaries that he was worthy of becoming a priest. Despite his unorthodox appearance before the selection panel four years ago, his devotion and determination obviously impressed.

On Saturday Private Adrian Teare, “Tea Pot” to his fellow soldiers, swapped his light machine gun and boxing gloves for a cassock and diaconal stole when he was ordained as a deacon amid the splendour of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Last week, sitting in the 4th  Battalion, Parachute Regiment mess in west London, the 33-year-old already seemed to be balancing two worlds. Still wearing his maroon beret and uniform, he proffered some cake he had just made from his mother’s recipe.

Baking, he explained, was a skill he hoped would fit well with his new position at the Parish Church of St Paul the Apostle, Tottenham, where the ethnically diverse congregation are always keen for a gathering over culinary delights.

From this week, the Reverend Teare’s new home will be a flat within the small church sandwiched between White Hart Lane football ground and a large housing estate. From there he will minister to the largely African community as he prepares for priesthood.

It is the fulfilment of a long held ambition, despite a diversion into Afghanistan’s war zone. He was, he said, an accidental soldier, who joined the airborne regiment’s territorial army battalion almost haphazardly, seeing no clash between the harsh nature of infantry life and his long term devotion to Christianity.

The son of a solicitor and a school receptionist from north London, it was while reading history at Durham University that he first had an “embarrassed” conversation with his college chaplain, confessing a yearning to join the priesthood. The chaplain’s advice was to go away for a couple of years and experience life.

Moving to Gateshead, he took up kickboxing while working as a clerk for the local police where an ex-soldier recommended the Territorial Army in 2004.

“I was told you will have more fun in the parachute regiment so on that basis I signed up, passed P Company (selection) and ended up going to war. I didn’t want to be an infantry soldier. I thought it was for hard, tough people. I wanted to fly about in a plane and I thought that was what paratroopers did. It was an accidental career in the infantry.

“The recruiting sergeant asked me why I was doing this and I said to smooth off a few rough edges. He then proceeded to smooth them off for me,” he explained.

He then volunteered to deploy alongside the 3 rd  Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, in 2006 when the British first went into Helmand, Afghanistan, and encountered what NATO commander, and now Chief of the Defence Staff, General David Richards described as the fiercest fighting since Korea.

Private Teare went to war with a light machine gun in his hands and a small version of morning and evening prayers in his pocket. Everyone, he insisted, has conflicting emotions that need to be held in tension.

“My story is about the naiveté of not having a clue. But I joined the TA and if you are joining something you might as well do it properly,” he continued.

Momentarily lost for words, he explained that Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch, 21, a Royal Irish soldier killed in a mortar attack on their base in Sangin, was a friend, adding simply “That was a terribly sad day.”

Instead he reminisced fondly of how his platoon Sergeant Colin “Tom” Beckett went out of his way to get Private Teare’s leave dates changed so he could attend an old friend’s wedding.  Last year Sergeant Major Beckett, 36, an “inspirational leader” was killed on his third tour of Afghanistan.

Despite the ardours of his army life and the grief of losses, he insisted: “I don’t think that because of what I have done I will be better than anyone else. When it comes to the priesthood, it is important not to be in front of people pulling them or behind pushing them but by their side.”

Private Teare returned from Afghanistan as determined as ever to become a priest and went on to study theology at Cambridge, where he excelled at boxing for the university.

Then in 2008, having just finished two weeks of exercise up in Catterick, Yorkshire, he drove down to London to appear before the Bishops’ Advisory Panel selection board, where he was recommended to train towards ordination.

On Saturday his church friends mingled with parachute regiment soldiers as he was made a deacon by the Bishop of London , the Rt Rev Richard Chartres.

“It has taken ten years, a long time but what is time between friends. It is just simply my life and now it will be in the community in Tottenham, just like the TA and in 3 Para, it will be people working together towards a common end.”

He continued: “The Tottenham community is very spiritual. They take church going very seriously and there is an average of 200 people on Sunday, 300 at Easter, the kind of numbers lots of ministries would crave for.”

He is obviously relishing the future but has perhaps not relinquished his past completely. Asked what he had done with the desert uniform from his Afghanistan tour, he replied: “It is washed and pressed in my kit bag - good to go.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower