Bourne Grammar School welcomed Reverend Peter Owen-Jones who visited the school on March 17 to speak to GCSE and A-Level students about his life and career as a parish priest and, more recently as a TV presenter on the eight-part series Around the World in 80 Faiths.
The series was first broadcast in 2009.
Peter told an enthralled audience how he came to be recruited by the BBC and about some of the adventures he had whilst filming Around the World in 80 Faiths over a 14 month period during which he travelled the world and participated in rituals from 80 of the world’s religions.
As well as being a television presenter for the BBC, Peter is also an author of various books about his experiences living a religious life and faith in general. However, his first responsibility is being an Anglican priest to a number of country parishes in West Sussex.
Ethics, Philosophy and Religion Subject Leader, Sean Tighe, commented on the fascinating life Peter has led so far.
“Peter dropped out of public school at the age of 16 and went to Australia. Back in Britain, he began his working life as a farm labourer and then ran a mobile disco before moving to London where he started in advertising as a messenger boy and worked his way up to creative director.
“In his late 20s, he gave up his commercial life to follow a calling to the Anglican ministry by enrolling at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. In 1996, Peter gained notoriety when he conducted a service for the Newbury bypass protestors.“
The event was described as a reminder of what a fascinating world of belief we live in and that learning about religion can be an eye-opening and life-affirming adventure.
Students were able to put Peter on the spot with questions about his experiences and faith. It was clear that the encounter with TV’s ‘Extreme Pilgrim’ was going to have a lasting effect on many of the students.
Alice Stephan-Rowlatt said: “He inspired me and made me want to travel the world, to embrace different cultures, and help people. He made me realise that are genuinely good people in the world. He inspired me to want to live in a different society.”
James Key added: “Peter Owen-Jones was an awe-inspiring character who has convinced me to take a gap year to do some international work. He has shown that it is a huge plus to widen one’s horizons and allow ourselves to become part of another culture. It has shown that we as a culture have forgotten key parts of living.”
Charlotte Stevens agreed: “He has inspired me to find not only adventure but joy in the world whether that be through religion or not.”
Luke Smith commented how the presentation had made him consider what life should be about.