Former The Communards star Rev Richard Coles imparts wisdom at Baldock school

Bill Bowkett, Helen Harrison, Monica Yianni, Rev Richard Coles, Charlie Littlewood, Mr Tim Litchfiel

Bill Bowkett, Helen Harrison, Monica Yianni, Rev Richard Coles, Charlie Littlewood, Mr Tim Litchfield, (Headteacher), Ben Dixon and Leon Collis - Credit: Archant

One of the most recognisable clergymen in the country – a man who shot to stardom in 1980s chart-toppers The Communards before turning to the church – is the latest VIP add his name to the visitors book at Baldock’s Knights Templar School.

Broadcaster and vicar the Rev Richard Coles was the guest for an Engaging Minds talk with Year 12 and Year 13 students.

Although he has been a Church of England minister since 2005, in his earlier life he was the multi-instrumentalist who partnered Jimmy Somerville on three top-10 hits including the best-selling single of 1986, Don’t Leave Me This Way.

In March 2011 he became a regular host of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live programme and he has made guest appearances on quiz shows such as Have I Got News For You and QI.

He was also an inspiration for the character of Adam Smallbone – who is played by Tom Hollander – in the BBC Two sitcom Rev, and the 53-year-old was an adviser on the show.

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As well as welcoming the reverend, the Baldock school has been no stranger to famous faces over the past six months, with human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, journalist John McCarthy and former England cricketer Darren Gough all visiting to share their wisdom.

Year 12 student Bill Bowkett said: “His incredible life story, perspectives and advice provided the sixth form students with plenty to think about and hopefully, the inspiration to achieve equally great accomplishments.

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“He talked to students about his varied and successful career, the struggle of being a gay man in the 1980s and his commitment to the Church of England.

“He said that during the 1980s homosexuality was a dark secret, but that homosexuality is now more tolerated to a point where everyone should be more loving and supportive.

Rev Coles, who has served congregations from Lincolnshire to Knightsbridge, said: “It was really nice to be here to meet and talk to so many young people. It was really enjoyable.”

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