Annie’s got a spiritual side of retail therapy

Annie Houghton is now a chaplain at a shopping centre
Annie Houghton is now a chaplain at a shopping centre

A Newton-le-Willows woman is bringing out the spiritual side of retail therapy in her new role as a shopping centre chaplain.

Mum-of-two Annie Houghton, vicar at St Peter’s Church, is overseeing a ‘Quiet Space’ at Warrington’s Golden Square shopping centre.

She spends time twice a week at the centre, offering solace and support to stressed shoppers.

Annie, 52, said: “I have the title of town centre chaplain, which in this role means I am a minister for people of all faiths and none. I am an Anglican, but within Golden Square that is immaterial as I am there for everybody.

“I believe that God put me there – not to teach and preach the gospel, but simply to be a friend to everybody.”

Annie, who lives in Newton-le-Willows where she is a Reader at St Peter’s Church, is available for anyone to discuss any topic or problems in full confidence.

She said: “My role at Golden Square is totally impartial and independent so people who have any kind of problems to deal with, whether it be with work or family or anything, know they can come to me and it is not going to get back to anyone.

“I will offer a prayer to anyone who wants one, but never without being asked. I also get out into the centre to meet as many people as I can and my role is not restricted to the Quiet Space.”

Centre director Ian Cox said: “I hope Annie continues to settle in well to her role here and I know many of our staff and visitors will be making the most of her presence.”