New Chair of the DBF



Canon Ian Francis and Simon Danks

After serving with 4 Bishops, 7 Archdeacons, 3 Diocesan Secretaries and 4 Directors of Finance, Canon Ian Francis has retired from his role as Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance. Simon Danks has been appointed as the new Chair.

Ian says;

“I have had fifteen years of challenge, failure, success and above all the pleasure of working alongside an extraordinary Diocesan staff dedicated to supporting the people in our parishes who, of course, are the church.

“There are no terms of reference specifying the role of the Chair, but it is about feeling the heartbeat of the Diocese, its policies and practices and contributing to its smooth running in seeking to fulfil its threefold purposes. The chair has the responsibility for ensuring the financial well-being of the Diocese and that it can meets its financial commitments ensuring always that finance does not drive the mission. Membership of or attendance at numerous committees enable these functions. An additional responsibility is that of chairing the Parsonages Committee which contributes so much to the well-being of clergy and their families. A particularly important function is that of sharing the line management of the Diocesan Secretary for DBF matters with the Bishop. My personal approach to the role and its functions has been to be a critical friend and advisor, I firmly believe that people must be given the authority to fulfil the jobs they are responsible for and my part is to gently but firmly apply the tiller when needed.

“Over fifteen years there have been many highlights – and lowlights – but there are two highlights which stand out for me and for which I feel proud.

“The first is that of being a member of a small (3 clergy and 2 lay people) working group that sat in 2005 to consider the direction of mission in the Diocese and how it might be financed. The outcome of about 2 months of weekly meetings was a paper entitled “Shaping the Church for Mission”. The paper was endorsed by the Bishop’s Council and subsequently by the Diocesan Synod and stated that “We believe that our Primary Purpose as part of the Christian community in Coventry and Warwickshire is ‘to worship God, to make new Christians and disciples and to work with others to transform communities” The threefold purposes have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they were then.

“The second highlight was to have been instrumental in delegating the allocation of parish share to the Deanery Chairs in that they were far better equipped to know the circumstances of the parishes within their Deanery than the Diocese. Today, this has of course, led to far more responsibility being handed down to the Deaneries. From my perspective all to the good of understanding and fairness.

“I would hesitate to give any advice to my successor, Simon, other than to say ‘enjoy’ this most extraordinary and privileged role to serve the people of the Diocese of Coventry.”

Simon Danks was born in Nuneaton and raised in Coventry. After studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bradford he settled in Halesowen, on the southern edge of the Black Country. A passion for manufacturing quickly developed and this was followed by an interest in how to improve the processes for which he was responsible. This focus of process improvement has become the foundation for the rest of his career, coupled with the desire to see people make the most of the skills and talents that they have been given. Currently Simon is self employed as a business consultant specialising in helping companies to engage their workforce to drive performance improvement at all levels; experience now ranges across the broadest definition of manufacturing, as well as construction, logistics, telecoms, banking and retail.

With regard to his faith, Simon was raised going to St.Thomas’, Keresley, and made a very conscious decision at the age of 13 that his faith was important and needed to be a central part of his life. Jesus’ teaching concerning serving was significantly demonstrated to him by his parents and this example has rubbed off; car park steward, children’s work, men’s ministry, eldership, housegroup leader, he enjoys using his gifts in and through the local church. Additionally, Simon is currently chair of trustees for the charity Tools With A Mission.

Simon is married with a grown-up family, moved to Bedworth in 2015 where he is currently actively involved at All Saints church. 

Simon says;

“As Chair of the DBF, I am looking forward to helping people be the best that they can be. If our common objective is to play our part in expanding the kingdom of God then the skills that I have been given help an organisation to be more effective; success doesn't come by one or two people doing all the hard work, rather it occurs because everyone knows how to contribute and the organisation understands how to engage people so that their contribution can be maximised.

“I'm also looking forward to having lots of fun, we will be making changes over the coming months and years and whilst that can be scary it can also be very exciting.”

Commenting on Ian’s retirement and Simon’s appointment, Bishop Christopher says;

“I am so grateful for Ian Francis’ years of service as Chair of the Coventry Diocesan Board of Finance with the many responsibilities that come with this lead-role in the life of Diocese. Ian has not only attended hundreds of meetings, engaged with a multitude of papers and overseen the finances of the Diocese in their many forms with exceptional diligence, he has also provided dedicated and insightful support to a succession of Directors and Finance and Diocesan Secretaries, as well as giving wise counsel to Diocesan Bishops.

“It is a great pity that the times in which we are living do not allow the sort of public farewell to Ian which, even though this self-effacing servant of others would not particularly welcome, he most certainly deserves.

“As well as our great thanks going to Ian, we also send gratitude to Margaret, from whom the Diocese has taken very many hours of Ian’s time. May the Lord bless both of them, and their family.

“Ian has set a high standard for his successor so I’m delighted that someone of Simon Dank’s ability and experience has been willing to commit to serving the Diocese as its new Chair of DBF. I am already enjoying working with him and I look forward to all that lies ahead.”