EAST Lothian has welcomed a new church minister: the Rev Douglas Hamilton, of the Parish of Traprain.

Mr Hamilton, 48, was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament during a service held at Prestonkirk, East Linton, last Thursday evening.

The Rev David D Scott was previously the minister in the Parish of Traprain but retired in 2019.

Last year, the parish was expanded to include Athelstaneford, Tyninghame and Whitekirk, which was vacant following the departure of the Rev Joanne Evans-Boiten. In the meantime, the Rev Mike Watson has been the locum minister with the interim moderator the Rev Dr Neil Dougall for the expanded parish.

Mr Hamilton was delighted to take up the position and hoped to reach out to people beyond the church walls, engaging with those who live and work in the area.

He said: “My ordination and induction marks the start of a new phase for me and the Parish of Traprain, which has a history of Christian witness and worship that dates back to the seventh century.

“One of the things that drew me to the church was the emphasis on connecting with and serving the wider communities across the parish.

“There are so many good local initiatives and my hope is that we will build on the strong links we already have in order to show God’s love and bring about positive change for the people who live and work here.”

Before training for the ministry, Mr Hamilton was director of The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust, which awards about £2.5 million to charities in Scotland every year.

He was also a former head of Scotland for Save the Children and was the first chairman of the Poverty and Inequality Commission set up by the Scottish Government.

Mr Hamilton also holds a deep connection with education, as his wife Suzanne is principal teacher of social subjects at Dunbar Grammar School, and they have a teenage son and daughter.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, he worked with Queen Margaret University to set up a tutoring initiative across East Lothian secondary schools to support young people adversely affected by the pandemic.

Mr Hamilton added: “A lot of my previous professional and voluntary experience has been about addressing some of the challenges faced by children and young people.

“I am particularly looking forward to working with schools and community organisations in whatever way I can best support them.

“I am also excited about exploring new ways to engage children, young people and families in the life of the church.”

Mr Hamilton said that the parish church had gone through a lot of changes in recent years but there was a recognition locally that further change was needed to ensure that it remained relevant.

He said: “In order to do that, it is vital that we take time to listen to the needs and concerns of people of all ages, particularly those who are most vulnerable and marginalised.”