DOWNING Street has today announced the new Bishop of Basingstoke as The Reverend Canon David Williams.

Rev Williams is currently the vicar of Christ Church Winchester, and will be ordained at a service in Winchester Cathedral on September 19.

He succeeds the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, who is now the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Rev Williams has served in the diocese for the past 13 years, leading Christ Church in the city centre.

Together with his wife Helen, he has played a leading role in growing the church and working closely with the local community, including the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester Prison, and the University of Winchester.

He also helped set up a Street Pastors project in Winchester, helping to reduce crime in the city.

Rev Williams said: “Knowing the diocese as I do will, I’m sure, be invaluable in my new role. Over the last 13 years I have grown to know and love the people, the churches and the communities in this area. Over that time I’ve met some really inspiring clergy and enjoyed working with many organisations doing great things and changing people’s lives. I want to build on that in this new role.”

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has decided that Rev Williams’ consecration as Bishop of Basingstoke will take place at Winchester Cathedral, the first consecration in the city for many years.

As a local vicar, the Cathedral holds a special place in Rev Williams' heart and he welcomed the Archbishop’s decision.

He said: “Having the consecration ceremony within the diocese means a great deal. Winchester Diocese is our home so it will be a great honour to be consecrated in our own cathedral, surrounded by the community, our friends and family. I want to ensure that it will be an event everybody can enjoy.”

Rev Williams grew up in East Africa and, after completing university, he worked for the Church Mission Society in east Kenya, where he witnessed the devastation of drought and famine.

He was deputy headteacher of a village secondary school during these years and retains close links with the Anglican Church in Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.

He believes these experiences will stand him in good stead to take on the challenges he will face as Bishop of Basingstoke, and said: “Taking on this role comes with a huge responsibility. North Hampshire embraces many diverse and unique communities both urban and rural. Myself and Helen are really looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.”

Welcoming Rev Williams to his new role, the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, the Bishop of Winchester, said: “I am absolutely delighted that David has been appointed to serve in this new way within the diocese. His work over the past 13 years, his understanding of the challenges and strengths of the local church and the relationships he has forged – both within Winchester and across the diocese – means he is well-fitted for the task ahead.”