A PRIEST who helped Mother Teresa of Calcutta nurse the dying returns home to Durham today to be sworn in as a freeman.
The Reverend Joan Donkin, who has served for the last decade in a parish some 70 miles west of Stockholm, will follow in the footsteps of her 94-year-old dad Norman when she is installed as a member of the 400-year-old Joiners’ Guild.
As a girl she helped her dad in his cellar workshop at their home in the city – an experience that has stood her in good stead throughout her life.
“I like to think that working with my dad helped me become the DIY enthusiast I am today.”
“All in all, becoming a member of the Joiners’ Guild seems very fitting, especially since my heavenly boss started his life alongside his father in a carpentry shop,” said the Rev Donkin.
After leaving college in Liverpool, Joan did voluntary service overseas, spending 18 months in Papua New Guinea before going to Australia.
In the 1970s, when she was an education officer at Coventry Cathedral, she had her first contact with visiting members of the Swedish Lutheran Church.
She went to India with the Anglican Church to help build up schools in Calcutta and was there she first met Mother Teresa.
Rev Donkin said: “Mother Teresa came to the cathedral and when she found out what I was doing invited me help at a home for the dying where she was involved.” The City of Durham Freemen’s oldest guilds and companies are believed to date back to 1327 and until last February had been an all-male institution for nearly 700 years.