Vice-Chancellor, it is my pleasure to introduce the Right Reverend Elizabeth Jane Holden Lane, or as she is known, Bishop Libby Lane. Libby is Bishop of Stockport, the first woman to be made a bishop in the Church of England, the mother of two adult children, the wife of a fellow Anglican priest and a fervent supporter of Manchester United Football Club.
From a family who were not regular churchgoers, it was as an 11-year-old girl, studying at Manchester High School for Girls, that Libby first found her way into the church through the invitation of a friend and it was the welcoming love of that community that drew her to faith. By the time that she was studying theology at St Peter’s College, Oxford, she was convinced she had a call to the priesthood, something which was still not legally possible at the time. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, later promoted to a Master of Arts degree under the statutes and customs of the University. As an act of faith, she subsequently went on to study for ordination at Cranmer Hall, at the University of Durham.
Libby was ordained deacon in 1993 and as a priest in 1994. She served her curacy at St James's Church, Blackburn. After taking a couple of years of parental leave, she went on to serve in hospital and Further Education Chaplaincies, as a Diocesan Training Officer in Social Responsibility, a Team Vicar and Director of Ordinands. More recently, before becoming bishop, she served in the Diocese of Chester as the vicar of the combined benefice of St Peter's Hale and St Elizabeth's Ashley from 2007 and, in addition, as the Dean of Women in Ministry from 2010.
In 2013, Libby was elected one of eight participant observers of the House of Bishops as the observer representing the North West of England. Then, in December 2014, it was announced that the Reverend Lane was to become the Bishop of Stockport, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester. She was consecrated at York Minster on 26 January 2015 and installed at Chester Cathedral on 8 March 2015, International Women's Day. As an elected suffragan, Libby is a member of the House of Bishops. She is Vice-Chair of The Children’s Society, Chair of Cranmer Hall, Chair of Chester Diocesan Board of Education, Chair of the Foxhill Retreat House and a member of the national review bodies for vocation and senior leadership.
Through her integrity, wisdom and faith, the Right Reverend Libby Lane provides an inspiring role, not only to our students graduating today but indeed to all of us.
Vice-Chancellor, I present to you the Right Reverend Libby Lane who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.