I've known my friend Anthony Beer for over 35 years. It's a friendship that flourishes even though we now live 150 miles apart, and meet only once a year. It also got off to an inauspicious start - the first time we met, in 1972, I ruined Anthony's toy snooker table!
We really become close friends in the years leading up to our A levels. We played football and put the world to rights during the hours we weren't revising during our A level month, June 1982. Later that summer, we went camping near Porthcawl and distinguished ourselves by thinking turps a suitable substitute for meths to fuel our camping stove! We also tramped across the coastline for a glimpse of the Gwely'r Misgl mussel beds - only to find them deep under water at high tide.
So I was thrilled to join the celebrations yesterday when Anthony was ordained as a deacon in the Church in Wales. I couldn't be there for the service in Llandaff Cathedral - just a stone's throw from my old house in the city within a city - but went to Anthony's celebration lunch in Canolfan Beulah in Rhiwbina. Anthony gave a lovely speech, describing how everyone present had left "fingerprints on my life".
Anthony will make a wonderful deacon. He's a deeply caring person, who has found his true vocation. I'm privileged to have known him all these years.
PS: by coincidence, I remember explaining to Anthony in the early 1980s that the Anglican body in Wales was called the Church in Wales, not the Church of Wales, because it had been disestablished in 1920!