A NEW director has been appointed to breathe new life into Whalley Abbey – and establish a new monastic community for the first time in nearly five centuries.

Adam Thomas, a curate at St Cuthbert’s Church in Lytham, is no stranger to working in picturesque settings having once been Lake District National Park Authority development programme director and head of commercial services.

He will take up his new post on March 1 and will steer the 700-year-old abbey’s life in a new direction post-pandemic.

The abbey is owned by the Church of England’s Blackburn Diocese. The diocese’s aim is for the site to be fully reopened by September as a centre for Christian Discipleship and Prayer, underpinned through the development of a new monastic community of prayer, lay and ordained, resident and non-resident.

The Cistercian abbey ruins date back to the 14th century, and the neighbouring abbey house and its chapel will be at the centre of the new plans.

Mr Thomas said: “I am so excited at this opportunity to ensure that Whalley Abbey is a place where all are welcome, where people can come for respite, rest and restoration.

“This is needed even more after what we have all been through in the past nine months. People are searching for a safe place to make sense of what has happened, to have time to reflect on what matters most in their lives and to dig deeper into a relationship with God.

Mark Ireland, archdeacon of Blackburn and chair of the Whalley Abbey steering group, said: “I am full of anticipation for what the future holds as we establish the new centre.

“Adam brings a personal commitment to prayer, to forming deep disciples for Jesus Christ but also wide business and financial experience from his career prior to ordination."

Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, said: “I fully support Adam and look forward to hearing many new stories being told in the life of a Christian site which was first established more than 700 years ago.”