First woman Dean to be installed in Southwell Minster

First woman Dean to be installed in Southwell Minster

News September 13, 2016
First woman Dean to be installed in Southwell Minster

The Ven. Nicola Sullivan will be installed as the first woman to be Dean of Southwell in Southwell Minster on Saturday 17th September at 3pm.

More than 500 guests will celebrate the occasion in the historic cathedral – with a significant number from her previous ministry, friends and family. Nicola will be accompanied through the West doors by the Rt Revd Peter Hancock (Bishop of Bath & Wells) and Acting Dean of Wells Cathedral, the Revd Canon Andrew Featherstone. Civic dignitaries include the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Sir John Peace; the High Sheriff, Judy Naaké; and the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Cllr Mohammed Saghir.

The service embraces moments of solemnity and legal formality as the new Dean is licensed and installed in her seat in the Quire and Chapter House when she is welcomed to the cathedral, diocese and county. Following the service, refreshments will be served in the Education Garden of the Archbishop’s Palace or in the cathedral if the weather is inclement.

Nicola is the first female Dean of Southwell and the seventh female Dean in the Church of England.

She says: “I think that, whoever we are, we bring to any role our experience of life, our temperament and personality regardless of gender. But I’m also conscious that having women in leadership does feel different for many people, and I don’t think there are any stereotypical ways in which women differ in these roles from men. I do have a strong sense of privilege at being the first woman Dean of Southwell – after being the first woman Archdeacon of Wells.”

Originally from rural Suffolk, Nicola was ordained as Deacon in 1995 and Priest in 1996. She has been Archdeacon of Wells and Residentiary Canon of Wells Cathedral since 2007. Before ordination she was nurse and midwife both in the UK and overseas with Tear Fund in Ethiopia and Swaziland. After serving a curacy at St Anne’s Earlham in Norwich, Nicola moved to Bath Abbey as Associate Vicar and from there to Wells as the Bishop’s Chaplain and Pastoral Assistant in 2002. She is married to Terence Westwood.

Nicola is looking forward to working with Bishop Paul and colleagues in the diocese and being part of an energetic strategy of taking the Gospel to more young people.

“We live in a society where many people are spiritually curious and open, and willing to be honest about their faith or lack of it,” she explains. “And the Church is in a good position to build relationships alongside people who are asking serious questions. We can work for the good of the whole of society at a time when we are going through profound changes and uncertainty across the world; and show our confidence in God’s future for the Church and for the world.”

The priority for Dean Nicola will be meeting people – not just in the Minster but in the town and in the diocese and county – and getting to understand how the Minster functions.

She is interested in local history, and getting out and enjoying the countryside. “We have two dogs, so I’m looking forward to walking and exploring the local area. I also love the theatre, music and concerts, and my husband, Terry, and I love offering hospitality …..

We are both very much looking forward to our new life in Southwell.”


Photo shows the Ven. Nicola Sullivan with Bishop Paul Williams outside Southwell Minster (Brian Pickering)

With acknowledgement to Penny Young for excerpts from an interview with Nicola for the current Minster magazine, ‘Southwell Leaves.’