Who’s Who: Hackney church pastor who was awarded MBE

Clinton McFarlane

Clinton McFarlane - Credit: Archant

Clinton McFarlane is no ordinary pastor. During one of the longest-running sieges in the UK when gunman and hostage-taker Eli Hall holed himself up in his flat in Graham Road, Hackney he was called upon by police for advice and help.

Life as a pastor for Clinton McFarlane has been far from ordinary – with one of his many challenges including advising the police during one of the longest-running sieges in the UK.

While other people spent New Year’s eve with their loved ones, the civil servant missed out on the celebrations with his wife because of his desire to help his community as gunman Eli Hall kidnapped a hostage and kept him in his Hackney flat for more than two weeks.

“We had a siege with a young man holed up in Graham Road”, he said. “He fired rounds of bullets at the police. He set the place on fire and then killed himself. It was a horribly difficult situation for people. I missed New Year at home with my family because I was helping police. For me, I would not change anything. My wife knows it’s a drive and passion for me to help.”

And his commitment earned him a commendation for bravery from the Metropolitan Police.

That was in 2002 and since then Mr McFarlane has not let up on his dedication to the community, his family or workplace.

The 43-year-old lives with his wife Janet and three children in Hillside Road, Clapton and juggles a full-time job, a ministry, volunteer work and family commitments.

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He was awarded an MBE for public service and services to the community of Hackney in the New Year’s Honour list earlier this year – something he describes as a “shock and delight”.

During the week he works as a business support manager for the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel where he provides support for lawyers drafting bills. He also works on the civil service appeals board which decides whether to reinstate or re-engage members of staff.

At the weekends and evenings, he serves as pastor at the non-denominational Ruach City Church which has branches in Walthamstow, Kilburn and Brixton. He teaches the bible, offers pastoral care and counselling support.

His father was also a minister – but Mr McFarlane never intended to follow in his footsteps. He said: “That’s why I played music at church. I did not want to become a preacher.”

Mr McFarlane also served voluntarily on various committees including Hackney’s Independent Advisory Group, a restorative justice programme with the borough’s youth offending team and is now a governor for two Hackney schools.

“With stuff that was happening with known crime I felt motivated to get involved and put my two pence in”, he said. “I started by attending a public meeting of the council and then I went to a few more. It lead to other things such as getting involved in Hackney’s Independent Advisory Group to the police.”

He continued “There’s a lack of understanding between young people and police. Anything that can better that relationship can lead to a more harmonious existence.”

He added: “We need to work with young people and bring them to a place where they see they have options. Lack of options is a big issue. With government cuts, there’s less for them to do and lead them to congregating on the streets. Young people are having difficulty finding housing and employment.”

Speaking about the borough where he has lived his whole life, he added: “I’m born and raised in Hackney and I have no intention to leave the borough. I plan to live here until I expire.

“Hackney’s people are great people. I’ve always loved the people of Hackney. Hackney has a community life of it’s own. It’s always been a fantastic place to bring up my children. I love it’s green spaces.”