Cancer doc’s cathedral role

Unusual combination: The Rev Dr Mike Kirby
Unusual combination: The Rev Dr Mike Kirby
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If you thought there might be a conflict between science and religion, the Rev Dr Mike Kirby begs to disagree.

By weekday you’ll find the accomplished scientist and former hospital consultant lecturing at Liverpool University, sharing his knowledge of radiotherapy physics.

But at the weekends he has an entirely different role – as a curate at Blackburn Cathedral.

The Ribchester-based cleric admits it’s been a challenge to his own expectations: “I never thought I would be in this position at this stage in my life, having been a consultant in the NHS and head of service and everything else that entailed!”

His work at Blackburn sees him stepping across to the market after Saturday morning service for sandwiches and coffee – and a chance to meet and talk to shoppers: “There are people who come with their problems and come to us for prayer....There’s a role for market chaplain for all the people there – not just Christians. It’s a significant outreach, rather than always expecting people to come into the cathedral.”

Mr Kirby was renowned for his work in cancer care across the region, having joined the staff of Manchester’s Christie hospital in 1988.

As a radiotherapy physicist he moved to the Preston area as part of the team which set up the Rosemere Cancer Centre at the Royal Preston Hospital.

In 2010, he decided to “put God in the driving seat.”

He trained at Westcott House, Cambridge from 2010 to 2012. Ordained a deacon first, he was finally ordained as a minister last June.

The future is full of possibilities – he talks with enthusiasm of the church’s role in Blackburn, outreach work into the community and healing ministry as well as his continuing scientific work.

He says: “There’s absolutely no problem between the science, particularly being a physicist and my faith.”