Surrounded by three clergymen who all had a connection to his former school, a past pupil of Portora Royal School felt right at home during his recent ordination as a Deacon for the Diocese of Blackburn.

Reverend Michael Hutchinson, who was ordained during an ordination service for Deacons at Blackburn Cathedral on Saturday, June 29, was joined on the day by Reverend Canon Brian McConkey, Rector of Ribcester and Vicar of Hurst Green and Mitton and Reverend Nick McKee, Director of Vocations in the Diocese of Blackburn, who were both former pupils of Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, the secondary school Rev. Hutchinson himself attended. The Very Reverend Kenneth Hall, Dean of Clogher and a former School Chaplain at Portora, travelled over to Blackburn to support Rev. Hutchinson during his ordination.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter about his time at Portora, now Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Rev. Hutchinson said: “I came to Portora in 1998 and I came as the only one from my primary school. I grew up in Newtownbutler, so I didn’t know anybody as I moved to Portora but quickly found that people were very friendly and very kind, the staff as well as the boys who were there at the time.”

Rev. Hutchinson added: “I was not very good at RE ironically, despite my recent ordination. My strongest subjects were maths and sciences and that kind of area so I went on to do A-Levels in those, then off I went to uni after that.”

When asked by this newspaper if he always considered a vocation in ministry, Rev. Hutchinson said: “From quite a young age I thought that that would be something that I’d be interested in. I saw some of the good work that ministers do and felt quite inspired by that really.”

He continued: “I think when I was about 16 I was beginning to go through those classes to help you decide what you want to do in the future and I thought that I could either use my maths to make as much money as possible, that was route number one, in actuary or something like that or become a maths teacher or option number three, maybe go and work for the church but at the time I was told to wait, I was told that when you’re 21 you’re a bit young so I was told to wait until I was 30 so that’s what I did in the end.”

In his youth, Rev. Hutchinson attended the Church of Ireland in Newtownbutler and later attended St. Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen. Rev. Hutchinson said: “When I was able to drive I started going to the Cathedral church in Enniskillen, it wasn’t Dean Hall back then, I think it was Rev. Brian Courtney, I quite enjoyed listening to him and his sermons.”

He continued: “So I kept going to the Cathedral when I was home from university then after an amount of time, I can’t remember exactly when Dean Hall joined the Cathedral, but after some time I got to know him and found him a very inspiring character.”

Noting that Rev. McKee and Rev. Canon McConkey, who also went to Portora, are now over living in England and attended his ordination, Rev. Hutchinson said: “So there’s three of us in the Diocese of Blackburn which is quite unusual for three Portora folk to all be at that.” He added: “Dean Hall doesn’t work for the Blackburn Diocese but came over for my ordination just to support me in my ongoing journey.”

When asked how it felt to be surrounded by fellow Fermanagh natives on the day, Rev. Hutchinson commented: “It was very nice. To be honest it kind of felt like we were taking over. The Diocese of Blackburn is quite a small diocese so you wouldn’t think that you’d be running into very many Fermanagh folk in general never mind Portora folk and so for three ex-Portora students to be stood in a line, and Dean Hall was the Chaplain of Portora, so to have that connection all in that one place it felt like Fermanagh sort of representing away from home a wee bit and doing good work.” Now ordained, Rev. Hutchinson is working as an Assistant Curate for St. Cuthbert’s Fulwood, Preston.

When asked if he would ever consider returning to Fermanagh, Rev. Hutchinson said: “It’s a possibility, now I’m married and the wife thinks it’s a bit wet over in Fermanagh so she might take some persuading.”

He added: “I’ve always enjoyed it and it would be a long term goal but we’ll see where life takes us.”