Hitchin’s Jane revs up as her new role makes history

Jane Robson, new minister of Tilehouse Street Baptist Church

Jane Robson, new minister of Tilehouse Street Baptist Church - Credit: Archant

A landmark Hitchin church’s first woman minister since it was established more than 400 years ago was formally welcomed into the role at a special service in the town – and revealed her past as a test driver of high-powered performance cars, and a Marks & Sparks shop assistant.

Hundreds of people gathered at Tilehouse Street Baptist Church to officially greet the Rev Jane Robson this month.

Jane, who moved to Bunyan Road in the town this month to take up her new position – was previously minister of a church in Watford for five years.

As the same time she was studying for a theology diploma from Regent’s Park College at the University of Oxford.

Before responding to her church calling Jane used to test Jaguar cars for a living, at speeds of more than 130mph.

She explained: “I worked for Jaguar and became a tester for a five litre Jaguar XK car on various test tracks.

“The power and luxury and sense of pride in something I’d help engineer was memorable.”

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But after 18 years in the role Jane decided on a change of direction as took up a role at the head office of international Christian youth organisation the Girls’ Brigade for a year.

She then took up a temporary position with Marks and Spencer but that stretched out to last for seven years as she explored the possibilities of a role in the clergy.

She said: “While I tested God’s call I worked as a customer service assistant for M&S.

“Those seven years serving on check-outs, filling shelves and working in the warehouse furnished me with another valuable set of skills for working with people.

“Gradually through my serving in a church with my skills and gifts, one or two people planted the seed in my mind that I could become a minister.”

After nearly two decades in engineering, which many regard as a male-dominated industry, 56-year-old Jane is used to challenging perceptions and is looking forward to being the first female minister at the Upper Tilehouse Street church.

She added: “Hitchin is a marvellous town and I feel privileged to take up my role.”

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