Our ministry team

Priest in Charge: James Shakespeare


I come to St John’s after 18 years’ ordained ministry in the Church of England, much of it in the diverse City and Diocese of Leicester.


I served as Policy Adviser & Chaplain to the Bishop of Leicester, as Rector of the large Parish of Birstall & Wanlip, and Team Vicar in the Market Harborough Team Ministry. Alongside parish leadership, I have also had roles leading Churches Together, as an active Street Pastor, and as a spiritual director and regular Quiet Day leader. I am a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, a community of people seeking to follow St Francis’ spirituality in everyday life. I am also a member of the Cursillo movement.


Originally I read theology & religious studies at Cambridge University, and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. Before ordination I served in the voluntary sector and in local government, and have a passion for Christians engaging in social action and responsibility. I have also studied at the University of Manchester (Social & Pastoral theology) & Sarum College (Christian spirituality). I was ordained at Ely Cathedral in 1999 and 2000.


I am married to Alison, who is a school business director, and we have two teenage children, Hannah & Edward. As a family, we enjoy the countryside (especially North Norfolk), music & the arts, reading, and travel. We also have a very affectionate cat named Fred!

Curate: Petra Shakeshaft

I was ordained deacon at Ely Cathedral in June 2014 following two years studying for a Bachelor of Theology degree for Ministry at Westcott House in Cambridge. My first degree is in the Practice and History of Art and I spent a number of years both painting and printmaking in a studio at home and teaching children in two primary schools.

I am married to Paul, an art historian and have a daughter, Eleanor, aged thirteen, who is also something of an artist, and two step-daughters, the eldest of whom has provided us with three lovely grandsons.

As well as anything creative, I love singing, cooking and entertaining, art exhibitions and museums, concerts and theatre. The cultural high-spot of the year for the family is the Hackney Empire panto. (Oh yes it is!) I am interested in exploring and nurturing the relationship between art and faith, spirituality and liturgy. Although silence and solitude are vital to me, I love people and have a passion for the pastoral role of the church and an interest in pastoral theology.

Paul and Eleanor are both members of the St. John’s community and Eleanor sings in the church choir.

Honorary Priest: Peter Heslam

Peter is an Assistant Priest at St John's church and is Director of Transforming Business, a project at the University of Cambridge on enterprise solutions to poverty. He is a fellow in the Divinity Faculty and a Senior Member of Trinity College. Peter works closely with economists and business leaders, and is a prolific writer, speaker and researcher in this field. He was attached to St John's as an ordinand in 1993–95, returning in 1999 when he became a lecturer and director of studies in the Cambridge Theological Federation and at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Retired Priest: John Hillier

I was a Reader for 14 years and was ordained in the Diocese of Southwark as a self supporting priest in 2002. My working life was spent in the architectural profession from which I retired in 2003. My wife Audrey is physically disabled but we have good family support with three adult children and four grandchildren three of whom live in Cambridge.
I am delighted now to serve as an honorary priest at St Johns.

Reader: Kate Aylmer

Kate has been a Licensed Lay Minister (Reader) for over ten years, serving in local churches, and now works in the Diocese as the Senior Vocations Adviser with a team of advisers who walk alongside people wishing to explore where God might be calling them. She is married with two adult children. She trained as a teacher, and also spent some years as a management trainer with the John Lewis Partnership. She is now an Advisory teacher for Information and Communication Technology in primary schools in the county. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counselling from St John's College, Nottingham, and also works as a Spiritual Director. For refuge she hides in her workshop woodturning or takes her camera for a walk.