Howard Astin has been active in church growth and community development as Vicar of St John’s Bowling for the last 26 years. Previously he helped lead a church in Huddersfield and before that was a Solicitor in the Bristol/Bath area specialising in crime and matrimonial work. He has helped in the growth of a network of church congregations across Bradford, is the Chair of Trustees of three community charities, the Chair of Governors at Bradford Academy, and has pioneered many ministries. He currently coordinates Prayer For Bradford, which brings church and Christian organisation leaders together from across Bradford to share and pray for the city. He with wife Helen has 5 children and now grandchildren.
Helen Astin has enjoyed working with children and young people since she was a teenager herself (a little while ago!). Having obtained her degree in Sociology and Theology and qualified as a teacher she has undertaken various roles including working for the old Abbey National. She has 5 children (all grown up and away) and grandchildren. As well as being alongside Howard in leading a few churches down the years, she created and ran Caleb Alcohol and Drug services for 13 years. At its peak it employed over 40 staff and saw many into recovery. Although the rehab project closed in 2010 the remaining detox unit continues to offer hope to those in addiction. Currently Helen co-ordinates the Prayer Platform in Bradford city centre together with fostering mums and babies.
Chris Barnes was born in Bradford and left school at 16 to become an apprentice engineer. He worked on the shop floor for 17 years. At the age of 35, Chris began to work for Olive Branch Trust doing pastoral care through St John’s Bowling, and gradually, over the next 25 years, took over as a congregation leader and looked after 19 cell groups. He also managed a day-centre for the elderly. He and wife Margaret have 2 children and three grandchildren. In 2006, having been ordained as a minister he planted a church at The Lighthouse Group Head Office and worked to support families in crisis. He now works as minister for Bierley Bethel Community Church and as a Seniors Inclusion worker at Bierley Life Centre.
Jan De Villiers
Jan De Villiers was born, raised and educated in South Africa. After starting his professional life as a police officer, he joined Operation Mobilisation and worked in Montreal for two years with marginalised young people involved with drugs and prostitution. He married Sharon in 1994, and in the same year they came to Bradford to establish a youth work project at the Vine in BD4. He continued to lead this work through its transformation to become e:merge in 2004, and served as e:merge’s CEO for seven years. Jan continued to pursue his passion for supporting churches, small charities and community groups in their growth by providing development planning and funding support; which he now combines with the role of CEO of Olive Branch Trust. He and Sharon have been members of St John’s and Meeting Point for the past decade. They have four children and are foster parents
Cassie Biggin really came to Bradford to marry Jon in 1996 having lived in various places including Nottingham. She had also previously studied Biblical studies in Sheffield and did further post-grad studies in Belgium. She and Jon have 4 children. They have led Meeting Point congregation for 9 years and are now experimenting with the development of 3 new hubs from that congregation, including one in BD9. Cassie has been a director of Olive Branch Trust for the last 14 years and is a regular New Wine speaker.
John Foxcroft is Bradford born and bred and has always been sporty, having excelled (in his youth) at both boxing and snooker. He went into the roofing business and has run a successful ‘industrial cladding’ business with his wife Sandra over the years. Contracts have included roofing such units as ‘Halfords’ and the like across the country. Many years ago John had drug and alcohol problems but has been ‘clean’ now for nearly 30 years. He has been an inspiration to many who are wanting to get into recovery. John supports his wife Sandra in the role of congregation leader at The Morning Congregation (TMC) at St John’s Bowling and continues to lead men’s groups. He has 4 children and grandchildren.
Terry Henry was born in Nottingham but moved to Bradford with his family. He started work in mechanical and production engineering before moving into management development within the financial services sector and then into management consultancy. He has been involved in leadership within church settings for 25 years, especially in the area of youth work but also as part of the leadership of Bradford Family Church since its beginning in 1999. He and his wife Meg have 3 children, two of whom are now at University. He is part of the Prayer For Bradford steering group, an Advisor with the Bradford University Christian Union and leads one of the Healing on the Streets Teams.