A Duns minister has been appointed to the position of senior Army Chaplain for Scotland.
The Rev Stephen Blakey will be the first Army Reserve Chaplain to take on the role and will do so while the previous incumbent is mobilised to South Sudan for six months. Rev Cole Maynard has been deployed to the area as part of the UK team supporting United Nations operations in the region.
Rev Blakey took up the post on Monday, December 12, and will be working across offices at Stirling and in Duns where he was inducted into Duns Parish Church in June 2012.
The 63-year-old has served more than 36 years as an army chaplain. He started out as a Regular Army Chaplain after being ordained and commissioned into the Royal Army Chaplains Department in August 1977. He held this position for 16 years and has served in the UK, Germany and China.
Serving as an Infa Battalion Padre with five Scottish Regiments, including the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, he toured Northern Ireland, Belize and Nepal during the 1980s and 1990s and served in the Gulf War between 1990 and 1991.
In 1993 he left the position of Regular Army Chaplain but was recruited back into the army as a Reserve Army Chaplain in 1996.
For the last 20 years, Mr Blakey has been the chaplain of Army Reserve Unit, 52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion Royal regiment of Scotland which has a platoon detachment in Galashiels as well as in Dumfries, Bathgate and Motherwell. The battalion has recently carried out training exercises in Italy.
Mr Blakey carried out his last tour in 2005 when he was a senior chaplain in the Balkans for 8 months.
Mr Blakey said: “It is a huge honour to be asked to fulfil this role, heading up the team of Regular, Reserve, Cadet and Officiating Chaplains who provide pastoral and spiritual support to the Army community across Scotland. It is the first time a Reservist has been given this task, and it’s an indication of the continued integration of the Regular and Reserve Army into one unified force.
“It is likely to be a challenging and demanding time for me, but I relish the opportunity to serve in this way.”
The appointment comes as plans to expand the role of reserve members in order to work more closely with the rest of the army are being implemented. Under army rules a chaplain can serve until the age of 60 after which they can serve for one year at a time until the age of 65.