Ex-Borders rugby player Jonny puts his skills to a different kind of service

An amateur rugby player nicknamed the ‘Vicar of Libby’ is set for kick-off – in his first ministerial parish.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 3:10 pm
Jonny Clipston and his wife ML (Mary Louise) with the Rev Colin Sinclair.
Jonny Clipston and his wife ML (Mary Louise) with the Rev Colin Sinclair.

Former fitness instructor Jonny Clipston, from Galashiels, was ordained and inducted last week into Newhills Church in Aberdeen.

The Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, was in attendance, along with family and friends.

Jonny’s father Stephen is also a Kirk minister.

This is Jonny’s first full-time post and he said he felt excited and daunted in equal measure. Although he grew up in a manse in Galashiels, he never thought about following in his father’s footsteps until he had left home.

“Growing up, I was always going to be doing something to do with sports,” he explained. “It was in my final year doing Sports and Exercise Science with Psychology at Heriot Watt University when I felt called to the ministry.

“It came pretty much out of the blue, but it did mean I had a good idea of what that entailed, including the demands and some of the harder aspects.”

Jonny (35) is a member of Liberton Rugby Club in Edinburgh – hence his nickname – and plays mostly in the back row.

He started playing rugby in primary school and his last job before studying theology in the capital was managing the health and fitness section of a social enterprise.

He said: “I worked as a manager, personal trainer, exercise class instructor and gym instructor, as well as partnering with local schools, GP practice, the NHS and a local authority.

“I loved working with people to achieve really positive life changes and that ability to relate to people is useful in ministry as well. I also learned a lot about personal organisation and people management, which are useful tools I have kept using.”