The Association for Promoting Retreats

The Association for Promoting Retreats was founded in 1913 by group of clergy and laity keen to encourage and promote the attending of retreats in the Church of England. In the latter part of the 20th century, other denominational retreat groups grew also formed, which in turn led to the establishment of the Retreat Association in the 1980s.

APR primarily exists to support the ministry of Anglican retreat houses, but is also active in related areas. We currently organise a biannual conference for Church of England diocesan spirituality advisers, as well as administering a bursary fund to enable more people to go on retreat, especially where cost might be an obstacle.

Did you Know?
  • APR promotes the work of more than 80 retreat houses across the UK, and beyond
  • Each year, our Bursary Fund supports 30-40 people in financial hardship to go on retreat at one of these houses
  • We promote over 50 individual Retreats and Quiet Days each month

As a membership organisation we rely on subscriptions to enable our work. If you are not already a member, please do consider joining APR, so that we can do even more to promote retreats. You can read the latest edition of our biannual newsletter here.

Our Trustees

The Trustees meet four times a year to discuss our plans and activities for the future, and a general meeting is held each autumn, to which members are always very warmly invited. New Trustees are sometimes needed, and anyone interested in applying is invited to contact the Administrator to find out more.

Revd Carol Smith, Chair of Trustees

Carol has been APR Chair of Trustees since 2021, and has recently retired as Vicar of Herne St Martin’s with St Peter’s Greenhill in the Diocese of Canterbury. She has also headed up the Chelmsford Diocesan Workplace Chaplaincy Team, serving as Chaplain to Essex County Council, as an Honorary Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral and as a Day Chaplain at Canterbury Cathedral. Carol is a trained Spiritual Director, Pastoral Supervisor and ‘Working with Conflict’ trainer, in the Canterbury Diocese, and has led various Quiet Days and retreats.

Revd Alison Christian

Alison has been a trustee of APR since 2017, and is currently Vice-Chair. After seventeen years as an incumbent in two London parishes, Alison became Warden of Launde Abbey, in Leicestershire, in 2012, where she co-created and led the spiritual direction course for the Dioceses of Leicester and Peterborough. She then worked as ‘Advisor and Advocate for Spiritual Direction’ at the London Centre for Spiritual Direction, before retiring in 2019. Alison continues to lead retreats and offer spiritual direction and enjoys art, theatre, poetry, music and walking.

Susan Parker

Susan has served as APR Treasurer since 2011. She has a professional background in accounting and administration roles within the Royal Air Force (11 years) and 27 years’ experience of setting up and running the National IT Learning Centre Company. She is a member of the Mother’s Union, in which she has held various roles, and is also currently Chair of Relate Lincolnshire. She lives near Newark with her two grown-up children.

Stewart McCredie

Stewart has been the Director of St Katharine’s, Parmoor since 2018, and was formerly General Manager of the Chelsmsford Diocesan retreat house at Pleshey, which marked a significant change of direction after 24 years in the oil industry! Stewart is particularly keen to encourage those who might never have considered a retreat to take that step and ‘give it a go’. He also enjoys spending time with the family, music of many styles - whether that be playing, listening or leading it - as well as golf and photography.

Revd Dr Nicholas Buxton

Nicholas is the Director of St Antony’s Priory, Durham, and was previously Priest in Charge of the parish of St John the Baptist in Newcastle, where he was also the diocesan Church and Society Adviser. During his time in Newcastle he founded Just Meditation and the Newcastle Meditation Centre. Nicholas has a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy, and is the author of a number of books, including, 'Tantalus and the Pelican: exploring monastic spirituality today' (2009), and 'The Wilderness Within: meditation and modern life' (2014).

Revd Canon Cameron Butland

Cameron is chaplain to the Bishop of Carlisle and Diocesan Spirituality Adviser. He is a member of the Cumbria Ecumenical Spirituality Group, (CESG), which trains spiritual directors and manages the Christian spiritual directors’ network for Cumbria. He regularly leads quiet days and courses, and is the author of numerous books, including: 'Work in Worship'; 'Our Daily Bread'; 'Walking into Celtic Spirituality'; 'Growing Spirituality'; and 'Soul Desire'.

Urs Mattmann

Born in Switzerland, where he lived for many years with an ecumenical Christian community, Urs moved to London in 2005, and to Thirsk in 2020. He is currently employed as Senior Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor and Spiritual Director at Holy Rood House, where he is also part of the chaplaincy team. He has facilitated or co-facilitated retreats in Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain and the USA. He is the author of “Coming In – Gays and Lesbians reclaiming the spiritual journey” and contributed chapters to 'The Good Retreat Guide' and 'Willing to Love – Stories of the Couple’s Journey as a Path of Transformation' (Ed. Anne Yeomans).

APR President

The Right Revd John Stroyan
Bishop of Warwick

Bishop John became President of APR in 2017. He is an experienced retreat leader and has a keen interest in the Eastern Spiritual Tradition. Bishop John attends trustees’ meetings when possible, and works closely with the Chair on discerning the strategic direction of the charity.

APR Administrator

Demelza Henderson

Demelza has been APR Administrator since 2017. She is a licensed Reader/LLM and Spiritual Director in the Diocese of Exeter, and currently also coordinates the Exeter Diocesan Spiritual Direction Network. With a background in both academic science and cathedral verging, as well as being an Oblate of the Society of Our Lady of the Isles, and a founder member of the Friends of St Levan, she brings a rich variety of experiences to the role. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the bassoon, and making jams and chutneys from local produce.

Contact Details

The Association for Promoting Retreats
2 Brookfield Cottages
The Strand
Exmouth EX8 5ES

Tel: 01395 272243

Reg. charity no. 222458