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Staff profiles

CUI’s staff team works all over our island, supporting Christian Unions on campus. Find out more about them here, and what they love about CUI.

Chris McBurney

Chris McBurney

 Region: North / North–west

Position: Northern Team Leader, working with CUs in Belfast, while leading the staff and volunteers. 

Why Chris loves working with CUI and feels student ministry is significant: 

In the summer of 2011 I headed to Canterbury for university, ready to live up the life that I felt I felt I deserved. One imbedded in an active social scene that revolved around rugby, nights out and occasionally attending classes.

Yet it didn’t take long for my focus to shift! Little did I realise how one lady simply asking me what I thought of Jesus would change everything. A few months later I walked through a park in Canterbury after attending an Alpha course and Jesus was the Son of God, it couldn’t have been clearer. God was real!

It changed everything! How could I not let others know? This new found joy in knowing my creator meant I wanted to tell others. And University offers an opportunity like no other. There are so many people heading to university, wanting answers to the questions they’ve never had the chance to ask. I believe this gives us the incredible opportunity to present the true Jesus to the thousands who come to university open, and searching for identity, hope and meaning.

 

Hannah Irwin

Hannah Irwin

 Region: Cork and Tralee

Position: Staff Worker

Hannah is from County Tyrone, and is a recent graduate of International Development with Spanish from the University of Leeds.  She has since done “Relay” in Glasgow, before working back in County Tyrone.

Why Hannah loves working with CUI: 

I love the island of Ireland, and I want to see it reached with the gospel, and I believe God is using CUs as part of His plan to do that.  I love that I get to do what I love most; speaking about the gospel and teaching and training others to do the same, and that I get to do it full–time.  The students in my patch are a great bunch, so it is just a blast to see them grow to love Jesus more and to increasingly want to make him known.

Personal CU/Student Highlight: 

 From my college days, a highlight was knowing a girl called Niki.  She came to a lunchtime event after being handed a flier outside the Student’s Union, and I happened to chat to her after.  The next time I saw her, at another event, she was talking about wanting to become a Christian!  Having then invited her to church, she loved it, and is now very committed, being baptised into it recently.  What an encouragement!

Katie Allen

Katie Allen

Region: Leinster

Position: Staff Worker

Katie grew up in Holywood, Northern Ireland and then studied English literature at Durham University. She stayed on in Durham to do an apprenticeship with her church there for two years and has moved back to Ireland to work with CUI. She loves to read books, have DMCs, laugh, drink hot chocolate and Irish dance!  

Why Katie loves working with CUI: 

“I particularly love being involved with CUI because I love seeing students reaching other students with the Gospel. The enthusiasm students in Christian Unions have to see their non Christian friends receive new life in Jesus Christ, as well as their dedication to making him known is both beautiful and inspiring. It is an absolute privilege to be involved in and to be part of what God, by his absolute grace, is doing in universities across this island.”

Personal CU/Student Highlight: 

“I was on the Events Week Committee during my time at CU and was blown away time and again by how God took our small efforts and multiplied them greatly. This meant that hundreds of students were able to come and hear the Gospel and engage with Christian faith on some level. Yes as a committee we had worked hard, but without God none of it would have been possible. It was such a joy to have been involved in God’s mission in this way.”

Katie works with the CUs in Maynooth, Trinity College Dublin and the Technological University Dublin

Lizzie Clulow

Lizzie Clulow

Region: North

Position: Staff Worker

Why Lizzie loves working with CUI: 

Being a student is such a unique time of life. It’s a place of such maturation and learning, but also a real place of discovery. This provides such a unique opportunity to share Jesus with students who are searching for new things at university and don’t yet know Him. Bringing the hope of Jesus into campus life provides an incredible opportunity for the gospel and a chance to see real lives changed by students meeting Jesus. For the students in CU being able to show them the beauty that is in the gospel, so that they go on to live Christ–focused lives and share him wherever they go is a real Joy. CUI hopes to give every person on campus the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel– and to be a part of than is an incredible privilege!!

Personal CU/Student Highlight: 

“CU for me was completely transformative in the way that I viewed the gospel. It was a time where I grew in my faith but also saw the importance of sharing Jesus with those who didn’t yet know him. It was an incredible JOY to be a part of a missional community of Christians that sought to share Jesus with their friends and campus. It was an incredible opportunity for me to be a part of CU in their mission weeks and strategic outreach. But, for me it was a real Joy in meeting around God’s word, having our hearts warmed by the gospel and letting it shape how we live as Christians and share Christ in our relationships and lives.”

Lizzie works alongside CUs in Belfast

 

Hollie Tagle

Hollie Tagle

Region: All–island

Position:  Ireland Project International Student Ministry (ISM) Team Leader 

About Hollie:  

Hollie grew up in Bangor and studied an undergraduate in English Literature and Spanish at Queens University, later followed by a Masters in Theology. She is married to Enrique and they have two beautiful and spirited little girls called Amelia and Lucia. She had previously worked for CUI as a staff worker, before serving in Cuba co–ordinating short and long term ministry placements with Latin Link and teaching Missiology in the Havana Baptist Seminary. She loves being a mum and going on little adventures with Amelia and Lucia, speaking Spanish and enjoying lovely hot baths and warm fires!

 

Why Hollie loves working with CUI/Friends International

“It is a real honour for me to be able to serve once more with CUI in Ireland through this new role. My time at university, and particularly in the CU, was such a formative season and instilled in me foundational skills and understanding that I continue to build on today. I love being able to draw upon the cultural expertise of FI alongside the local campus engagement of CUI in order to see more and more international students transformed by Christ and his gospel.”

Personal CU/ISM Highlight:  

I have always loved being part of the iWelcome Programme in Belfast which is run over two weeks to welcome new international students arriving into the city. The sheer number of volunteers and variety of people involved – from CU students to church leaders/volunteers from over 7 different churches, (not to mention the international students themselves!) has always been a real picture for me of what unity in Christ can look and feel like. When the church and our Christian Unions not only open their doors to international students but also God’s word and their lives, God is at work transforming the nations – to God be the glory!

Kim Becker

Kim Becker

 Region: Belfast 

Position:  International Student Staff Worker 

About Kim:  

Kim is originally from Missouri in the United States, but studied in Texas and Seattle and then moved to Baltimore for work. She worked in university administration for six year before coming to Northern Ireland in Sept 2012 to serve as a volunteer church intern. After this experience, she felt led to stay in Belfast and returned in 2014 to study theology for two years, followed by another year as an intern. She enjoys causal danders, sipping good coffee, cooking, and chatting all things current affairs; if friends are involved in any of these things, it’s even better! 

Why Kim loves working with CUI/Friends International:  

I really love building relationships with the students from the Christian Union, particularly the international secretaries, who serve at iCafes across Belfast.  I admire their enthusiasm and dedication to befriending students from different cultures!  It’s inspiring to see the next generation of Christians be so invested in loving and serving the nations, and its an honour to encourage and help equip them in doing this well. 

Personal CU/ISM Highlight:  

One of my highlights has been being involved with the iCafe co–cordinated by Queen’s Christian Union and a local Belfast Church.  Each Tuesday evening nearly 50 people fill a small café room in a local church. Half of the individuals are from the church and Christian Union, and the other half are students from around the world – China, Malaysia, India, USA, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Mexico, Africa and beyond. The majority of the evening is spent chatting, enjoying standard Northern Irish refreshments, and engaging in different themed activities each week.  As I look and listen around the room as the night is meant to draw to a close, the intensity and engagement of conversations are at the highest level. Many of the volunteers find themselves thoughtfully listening to the different viewpoints and sensitively sharing about why following Jesus is Good News!   I am grateful for the opportunity to support such a faithful team each week.

Neus Kell

Neus Kell

Region: Dublin

Position: CU Staff Worker

Neus is from Blessington, Co. Wicklow, and studied French and Spanish at Trinity College Dublin. After a year of Relay and a year in France, she taught English as a Foreign Language in Dublin for a few years. She loves to play music and do Irish dancing.

Why Neus loves working with CUI: 

“I love working with students and getting to see them grow in their relationship with God and develop as leaders in their time at university. It’s so encouraging as I hear stories and see students reaching out to their friends on campus with the gospel. I remember going to a seminar on evangelism with Lindsay Brown at CUIAC one year and realising what a huge potential the CU had to reach all the students on campus with the gospel. I have been convinced of it ever since and feel privileged to play a part in that now.”

Personal Highlight:

“I loved getting to be involved in international student ministry in Trinity and then also through DIO and international cafés in the city, as well as meeting students from other CU movements by going to France and Spain. It was amazing to get to know and share the gospel with students from so many different backgrounds and countries and just showed me really what it really meant to serve God by reaching out to others.”

Neus works with the CUs in UCD, DCU and RCSI.

Isabel Quinlan

Isabel Quinlan

Region: Waterford and Carlow 

Position: Staff Worker

Why Isabel loves working with CUI: 

“I love working with CUI because I know how much of an impact Christian Unions can make on students in their college years and way beyond! When I was a student, being in CU helped shape me in so many ways, from my view of church to the importance of lifelong mission. I also made friends for life in my CU!
These days I love meeting students from loads of different backgrounds and being part of a community that on the outside might seem unlikely but is united through the gospel. I get to see real love in action when students work together, with all their differences to be mini mission teams in their colleges.”

Personal CU/Student Highlight: 

“This semester so far I’ve been blown away by God’s Spirit already at work in students that we’ve come into contact with. One student recently approached an outreach stall in IT Carlow and told us he’s been feeling disillusioned by traditional religion, so he’s been reading scripture for himself and can feel himself being ‘changed by the grace of Christ’. I’ve been reminded that God himself is doing mission on campus, and that we’re following in his footsteps!”

Izzy works in CUs in Waterford and Carlow

Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis

Based in: Bangor 
Position: Director of Christian Unions Ireland 

Mark leads the CUI team and helps set direction for CUs in mission. He travels extensively in both Northern Ireland and the Republic, meeting with students, staff, church leaders, and supporters.

Mark is from Scotland, and spent a number of years leading the UCCF Scotland team in student ministry. He has also served in cross–cultural mission in Asia with OMF, has been the minister of a local church, and worked as an accountant. He is married to Joanne, and they have three children at university. Mark now has grey hair so must be very wise.

Why Mark loves working with CUI:

“Five out of six Christians around the world came to Christ before the age of 25. So this is a strategic age and ministry and opportunity. I love seeing students reaching students with the gospel. I love seeing a culturally–creative, warm–hearted proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, coming from students who live in close authentic relationships with their friends. I love seeing lives transformed, and have lived long enough to see students go on to serve in and lead churches. I long to see them impact the nation and the world for God’s glory.”

 

Sally Patty

Sally Patty

Region: Northern Ireland – Belfast
Position: Head of Office

Sally is a graduate of UU Jordanstown and later worked there in Business/IT research before leaving to join the UCCF Ireland team as Administrator. She has served in this role first full–time and now part–time for 20+ yrs, but as no two weeks are ever the same it continues to throw up new areas of learning.

She is married to Steve and they have 2 children – Esther and Joshua, and they are part of the church family at Holywood Baptist Church. As a family, when not found in one of the many local coffee shops or parks, they enjoy swimming, exploring new places and even occasionally camping.

Why Sally loves working with CUI:

“University was the time in my life where I grew most – matured as a person and as a Christian, CU and IFES were central to this. I love seeing students grasp what the Gospel means for them and the impact it can have on their lives, studies and future. I especially love the Worldwide nature of the ministry. This affords our students the chance to be exposed to other IFES movements, whether through attending conferences, going on summer teams or spending a year or more serving another Student movement. I’ve seen firsthand the impact that has had on those individual students and those with whom they come into contact.

It is a privilege and a blessing to see God at work in students’ lives in Ireland and around the world.”

Sally works part–time in the CUI Belfast Office.

Amy Cunningham

Amy Cunningham

Region: North–west
Position: CU Staff Worker

Amy is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, with a degree in English with Linguistics. Since then she has worked in a chaplaincy and as an English teacher in the Basque region of Spain.

Amy is married to Jordan and enjoys laughing, snowy walks, the (US) Office, reading and board games with friends.

Why Amy loves working with CUI: 

“For me, university was a time where God taught me so much about Himself and His mission, and so I’m really excited about how much students can transform and grow while they are at university. I absolutely love this work because of the potential students have at university to share the gospel with many different people – you’ll probably never meet so many people from different cultures and backgrounds ever again!”

Personal Highlight:

“A highlight of my time in the Christian Union was giving tea and coffee to anyone who walked past in South Belfast outside the university. It was a great way to ask people to question their worldview and consider Jesus. I made friends with some people I chatted to on the street, listened to people’s stories and opened my Bible with others.”

Amy works with the CUs in Derry, Coleraine and Letterkenny

Peter Grier

Peter Grier

Region: All–Ireland (based in Belfast) 
Position: Project and Development Manager

Peter grew up in Belfast in a Christian home, he enjoyed the rich heritage of Bible teaching that NI has to offer, as well as the joy of being a Christian Bookshop manager’s son. Leaving to study maths and philosophy at the University of Nottingham, before doing “Relay” there (and some hockey coaching), he realised that he missed Irish culture and the coastline of Ireland more than he thought! Now after 7 years in Cork, he can be found hanging out with international friends, running mountain trails and pondering about a theology of travel.

Why Peter loves working with CUI: 

“The “times they are a–changing” (as Mr Dylan would say) and I think it’s a fascinating time not only to be in Ireland, but to be at the heart of that change in the student world, where university lectures will impact what the country will move on to believe, and the students will become next generation’s leaders of the country and of the Church. As the country seems to be making its theme tune “losing my religion”, it’s incredible to be able to equip and inspire such passionate, young believers as they seek to change their campus, society and the world by proclaiming the good news of Jesus, and seeing many coming to know Him across the land. What a joy!”

Personal CU/Student Highlight: 

“CU was transformational in my life, as I learnt how to apply my rich theological upbringing to real life. Having never met such a diversity of people before, it was amazing to be able to meet up and study the Bible with people from the Secular Society, LGBT society, Islamic society, some of my hockey team, housemates and course–mates, and see them respond to Jesus in different ways. But my highlight was definitely our “nine20” small–groups, in areas where every student lived (whether in halls or off campus), that gave every one of 33,000 students a chance to meet Christians and to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ during their time at university – what an incredible legacy to have over 3 years as a CU!”

Peter’s role now involves helping chair the EQUIP Planning Team, developing CUI’s communications strategy and a few other bits and pieces on the side!

Helen Blakey

Helen Blakey

Region: Munster & Connacht – Galway
Position: CU Staff Worker

Helen graduated from St Andrews University in 2011 with a degree in French and Spanish. After uni, she did the Relay programme in Stirling and spent a year working as a youth worker in Bangor before moving to Australia for several years. She is married to Joel and is now living in Galway. Helen loves spending time with people, visiting new places and drinking coffee.

Why Helen loves working with CUI: 

“I love working with students because they have amazing potential to shape their areas of study and work for the Gospel. I believe that many people make decisions as students that will impact the rest of their lives and therefore it is important to point them to Christ as they navigate the joys and struggles of student life.”

Personal CU/Student Highlight: 

“A highlight of my time as a student in CU was going to Forum Scotland (a day of evangelism training for all the CUs in Scotland). The main speaker talked on Acts 17 and reminded us that God is in every part of life and that people are searching for Him whether they realise it or not. It was a great challenge and encouragement that we were not to limit God or believe that certain people were beyond the reach of the Gospel.”

Helen works with the CUs in NUIG, ITS, UL, LIT and AIT.