Next Bishop of Hereford is Harley Davidson biker planning charity skydive

The next Bishop of Hereford is a Harley Davidson biker who is about to take a leap of faith by carrying out a charity skydive.

The Right Reverend Richard Jackson, who is currently Suffragan Bishop of Lewes in East Sussex, will be taking up his new role in the new year, the Diocese of Hereford said.

He will become the 106th Bishop of Hereford – a church position dating back to 676.

Bishop Richard Jackson
Bishop Richard Jackson

Mr Jackson said: “I am immensely humbled to have been chosen to become the next Bishop of Hereford.

“This beautiful diocese is in my DNA.

“I’ve traced my family tree and if I took a journey visiting churches from Leominster to the Welsh border, I would be able to see the graves of my ancestors dating back to the 13th Century.”

Speaking of his desire in taking up the role, he said: “In uncertain times, what the Bible says and the example of Jesus’s life are timeless, guiding us through our complex modern world.”

The 58-year-old is married to wife Deborah, a learning support teacher, and the couple have three children.

Bishop Jackson, who grew up in Uxbridge and was installed as Bishop of Lewes in 2014, described himself as “a reluctant convert”.

Bishop Jackon
Bishop Jackon

He joked at being “dragged into the church by my sister”, after she took the then 17-year-old to a church youth group in Ealing.

“But at the youth group, I first encountered Christians living out their faith in a practical way,” he added.

“I know exactly the moment I gave my life to God – it was 10.28am on November 4, 1978, while washing my granny’s car.”

After studying agriculture and forestry at Christ Church, Oxford, and gaining a Master’s Degree in soil and water engineering from Cranfield, he worked as an agronomist, advising farmers.

He felt the “irresistible” call to ordination at a Christian summer conference and then studied to become a vicar at Trinity College in Bristol.

In East Sussex, Mr Jackson has become known as the “biking Bishop” riding around the diocese on his Fat Boy Harley Davidson motorcycle.

He is due to carry out a charity skydive, splitting the money raised between the Church Urban Fund and Together in Sussex, which both help people in need.