Bishop of Stepney pins Queen’s MBE on East End vicar Philippa Boardman

Top church figures joined parishioners to pay tribute to the vicar awarded an MBE after battling to turn a dilapidated Victorian church in London’s East End into a thriving community centre.

They staged a party last night (Friday) for The Prebendary Rev Philipa Boardman, whose 15 years running St Paul’s at Old Ford was recognised when the Queen presented her with an MBE at Buckingham Palace two days before.

A smiling Philippa, one of the first Church of England ordained women vicars, showed off her medal to her parishioners and to the Bishop of Stepney, to the new Dean of Hackney and to church figures from all over London.

The bishop, the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, then took the medal and proudly pinned it to her vestment after paying his own tribute to her dedication “to God and His community on earth.”

Another tribute came from the Dean of Hackney, The Venerable Rachel Treweek, who said: “The Queen’s honours balance notions of public service that have been devalued in today’s society. Look around you and you see what Philippa has done for the community.”


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She added, with echoes of Churchill’s wartime resolve: “This is testament to the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ that such public service takes.”

Philippa arrived at Old Ford in 1996 to a run-down church with a crumbling roof, tucked away behind the busy Roman Road Market.

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She brought in architect Matthew Lloyd in 2001 to fix it. He recalled: “I crawled over broken pews and through piles of jumble to meet her. Water was dripping down from the roof above us.

“I looked with gloom around me and could see work costing millions and told her nervously that churches don’t easily get funding on this scale.”

But Philippa raised �3.5 million with jumble sales, exhaustive fundraising events and going cap-in-hand to the National Lottery.

Matthew added: “So here we are 10 years later, pushed by Philippa’s tenacity and unfailing faith, in a building that’s testament to her vision.”

Philippa’s MBE recognises her ‘services to heritage in East London’ in transforming St Paul’s into a vibrant community centre with an art gallery, caf�, meeting hall, cr�che, therapy gym—and even lifts.

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