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New CEO, and new Master of the Music announced at Buckfast Abbey

October 12, 2022 | News

Devon’s Buckfast Abbey has announced that Philip Arkwright been appointed by the board of Trustees to the position of Chief Executive Officer. Philip has been employed by the Abbey since 2013, originally as Organist & Master of the Music, but most recently in the senior role of Strategic Operations Manager with responsibility for the charitable and religious aspects of the Abbey.

Throughout his time at the Abbey, Philip has worked closely with Fr Abbot and the Monastic Community on a series of exciting projects. His appointment as CEO strengthens the Abbey’s commitment to place its core identity as a Roman Catholic Benedictine Monastery at the heart of the organisation – integrating its fundamental ethos and values into the financial and operational responsibilities which support the Abbey’s charitable aims.

Commenting on his new role, Philip Arkwright said: ‘‘Buckfast is an incredibly special place, a place which means so much to so many people. It is both a privilege and an honour to serve the Monastic Community, the Abbey staff, and all our visitors in this leadership role.

“I joined the team at Buckfast nine years ago because I saw it as a place of opportunity, with so much potential to achieve great things – drawing upon the dedication, skill and expertise of monks and lay staff alike. I relish the opportunity to develop and grow our hospitality offering, which is so important to the Monastic Community, as well as strengthen our culture as an employer of choice in the region.’’

In taking over the reigns as CEO, Philip vacates his position as Master of the Music. This role will now be taken on by Matthew Searles. Matthew takes responsibility for all aspects of the liturgical and music life of the Abbey – an area of huge growth and output in the last decade.  The role of Master of the Music is integral to the daily life of the monastery, given that the daily Mass and Office is sung in its entirety.

Matthew joined the Abbey in 2018 as Assistant Master of the Music, during which time he has founded and nurtured a choir of young choristers in collaboration with the Abbey’s primary school, St Mary’s. Matthew has also been integral in founding the Abbey’s own record label Ad Fontes, which produces high quality recordings of Roman Catholic Sacred music, to critical acclaim.

Commenting on his appointment, Matthew said: “Music is the bedrock of Benedictine life at Buckfast, and we celebrate over a thousand years’ worth of Catholic musical heritage in this sacred place. In recent years, the Abbey has gained a recognised position in the wider musical world, and I look forward to building on this success as I lead the Abbey’s music in the years to come.”

The Rt Rev. David Charlesworth, Abbot of Buckfast Abbey, commented on the new appointments, saying: “Both Philip and Matthew have worked extremely hard to establish a programme of national significance at Buckfast, putting the Abbey firmly on the map as a centre of liturgical and musical excellence.

“We look forward with confidence and expectation as Philip steps into his new role as CEO, with Matthew leading the Abbey’s musical output in the years ahead. Both have impressed the Monastic Community by their enthusiasm, energy, and commitment over the years, and these appointments secure a bright future in the next phase of our development.”

Buckfast Abbey welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The site is a flourishing complex of buildings and includes the stunning Abbey church, the beautiful gardens, a restaurant, multiple retail outlets, a conference centre, and a broad range of guest accommodation.