Hi, we’re Guy and Hazel Huggins and live on the outskirts of Dawlish, Devon.
We’re followers of Jesus and as part of a vision 20 years ago we run Pastor’s Pad - a place of peace for anyone working in front-line Christian work to get some time away with their family. The distractions of everyday life can become overwhelming and being able to take some time out to be together with each other and listen to God is, in our minds, very precious.
The vision took 10 years of preparation and in May 2011 we were delighted to open our holiday accommodation we’ve called Pastor’s Pad. This is available at a reduced tariff to all those in any kind of Christian ministry across the globe. We also ask for any donations to go towards keeping the high standard of maintenance and to fund anyone who just can’t afford it. If that’s not possible, we totally understand - we fully rely on God to provide for His people.
Most people who have stayed at Pastor’s Pad ask us about how the vision came about and our story. So, we’ve finally got round to writing it down!
Pastor's Pad Vision
In 1998 whilst living in Clevedon, Guy felt called to have a radical change in career towards management consultancy and change, in particular to give up his current job and study for a full time MBA. We felt that this would be used to play a part in supporting and equipping Christians in leadership, but the Lord didn’t reveal any specific details. Guy applied to study an MBA at Bristol and miraculously the company he was working for offered sponsorship of fees and equipment. However, Guy received no salary during the studies and with a mortgage, one young child and another on the way we went heavily into debt. Nonetheless we knew that God had a bigger picture for our lives and we were at total peace.
In 1999 during this time of study, we went on a short holiday to Devon staying in a friend’s parents farmhouse annex. Just before the end of the holiday we had one of those seemingly casual conversations over a cup of tea that proved to be life changing. It went as follows:
Guy: “I had a really strange dream the other night”
Hazel: “So did I. What was yours about?”
Guy: “I dreamt that we were living in Devon with a holiday let providing respite for people in ministry”
Hazel: “That’s odd, so did I! I had a picture of fields and peace and rest for God’s people. Like the meadow at the back of this holiday annex we are staying.”
Guy: “..and in the vision I saw an L-shaped property with a square courtyard where the cars parked with our house as the top and first return side of the L and the holiday cottage at the bottom side of the L…”
Both: why is it that many people in ministry can afford to get away for a decent holiday or rest bite when they are doing such life critical work? It’s not right. Why don’t we provide a facility that blesses people with good standard of accommodation, in a location of peace and beauty and at a cost / not for profit rate?
We were pretty much speechless. God was calling us to provide a place of rest and refreshment for people in front-line ministry. A place where they could receive soul care and reenergise for the life- giving work that they have devoted their lives to. We didn’t know the details of when this would happen although felt it would be within 10-year period. We didn’t know specifically where in Devon but felt it would be far enough into ‘holiday territory’ but close enough to commute into London by train for consultancy work. We didn’t know how on earth we would be able to afford it – but we knew it was of the Lord and he would provide.
We returned from our holiday both excited and bewildered. We set up an accountability group around us to help pray through and test the vision. At the end of MBA studies we were blessed with the birth of our second child and soon after that Guy was headhunted for his first organisational change assignment. The Lord indeed provided as we were able to pay off significant debt from the MBA within 6 months and then start the challenge of saving hard and gaining vocational experience for what was to lie ahead.
We wanted to better understand how and when this vision would become a reality, but the Lord revealed the stages of the journey slowly and in His timing. A number of dreams and words were given to us and we will share just a few of those. About 3 years into this waiting period Hazel had a dream where she was in old library – the ones that had 20ft high bookshelves with a step ladder that you slide backwards and forwards to climb up and retrieve a book. In the dream Hazel saw a book on the shelf with our names on it. Hazel climbed up the ladder to get it, but she sensed the Lord saying to her “I’ll tell you when you can take the book off the shelf, and I’ll turn the pages for you – not you.” This prophetic dream is exactly how events unfolded. Another incidence was when we visited a church in Kent and a woman came up to us and spoke prophetic words into our life and about the vision – if was amazing as she knew nothing about us. Guy had a very detailed dream of a room that was an office with a desk and a sofa and a wall. On the wall were pictures of all the people and families that had received rest-bite at the holiday cottage, but the wall was only half full. During the dream the wall was filling up with more and more pictures of faces of people in ministry until the wall was nearly full. The proportions, décor and orientation of the room were vivid enough to draw.
The years went by and the savings and ministerial equipping continued. After having been busy in supporting the rebuild of our local church (from visioning to fundraising, build and fit-out) Guy was then involved with a restructure of the church leadership team in the autumn of 2008. We were desperate to move to the next stage of our journey, but the Lord was telling us to first finish the work he had given us to do at our local church. We felt led to put our house on the market in Spring 2009, but still nothing. Then at a Tuesday night church meeting, Guy presented the plans for the leadership restructure and they were approved by the membership. That Friday our house sold, we moved out 5 weeks later to stay with Hazel’s parents and we started the search for properties in Devon.
We knew it was a narrow window for relocating to ensure minimum disruption with schools. The problem was that we couldn’t register for a school in Devon because we didn’t know exactly where we were going. Also, to register for a school you need to register a postcode of a fixed or temporary abode! We set an internet search for Kingsbridge area, in particular Ivybridge and had a couple of weekend visits to check out areas and churches. However, some friends of ours went for a prayer walk in Ivybridge and shared that they just didn’t sense it was where God was calling us and that we should pray into a new location. We reset the search for Teignbridge district.
In June 2009 Guy’s father had a heart attack and required surgery. Praise the Lord he survived (and thrived) however we were due to go abroad on holiday in July. So we cancelled the holiday because we wanted to be close at hand during Dad’s recovery. Instead we opted for an earlier holiday in Teignmouth so we could be on standby. We thought this would be a good opportunity to view potential properties. We arranged viewings for about 15 properties over a 30 square mile. We had both drawn up personal lists of what we wanted the property to have or not have – 2 criteria were no thatch and no swimming pool. However, when we visited Weston Cottage we knew it was where God wanted us (incidentally it has both a thatch and swimming pool – God knows best!). When Guy stepped over the cattle grid it was like an electromagnetic pulse surged through his body. We had complete confidence that despite the financial, renovation and time hurdles that God would give this property for His purposes. The negotiations and legal aspects went really well and we moved in at the end of August 2009 – 1 week before the new school term and pretty much 10 years and 1 week from the original vision. Wow.
Once we had moved into Weston Cottage and unpacked, we started to look at the challenge of renovating Little Weston holiday cottage into Pastor’s Pad. The holiday cottage was in a terrible state with poor layout, beyond aged decoration and damp. Perplexed we decided to go out for a meal at a local Chinese restaurant and put some thoughts to paper. We took 2 blank pages of paper and a reference sheet of existing dimensions and started to sketch out a whole new layout. It was like a heavenly download. In 20 minutes we had drawn up ground floor and first floor plans. We took the sketches to a local retired architect and he redrew them into a CAD diagram. It was incredible as he said that he could not find a better way of ‘massing’ the room sizes and layout. The only change was to adjust the layout of the stairs for headroom.
We had the plans costed by a local builder and good friend of ours. We worked out that we could afford to complete work to the structure, envelope, services and fit out the whole of the ground floor. At this point we planned that the 2 bedrooms upstairs would be left as a shell and that as rental and donations materialised from the ground floor, we would use it to gradually complete the upstairs bedrooms. The build and refurbishment took 14 months and at the end of this period we had enough money to pay for the whole refurb – not just the ground floor – a true miracle.
Finally, the day came. On 21 May 2011 we had the formal ‘opening ceremony’ of Pastor’s Pad, led by a dear Christian friend, author, presenter and musician. It was a truly moving and memorable day. One that at times seemed impossible but also secured. Praise God.
We are now at the 10-year anniversary of Pastors Pad, providing this ministry soul care to those in ministry. We have visitors books full of testimonies from individuals, families and leadership teams of their time spent at Pastor’s Pad. We’ve had church leaders, people involved with cutting edge urban projects, youth work, prison ministry, sports ministry, overseas missionaries, radio broadcasters, authors, song writers, nationwide movement leaders and social care. We’ve worked closely with Christian based The Gravel Road Trust to provide holidays for families who are about to lose someone, or have just lost a loved one to cancer.
We’ve seen many amazing things happen, that could only be God, in providing everything we need to fulfil the vision. We long to see all God’s people being blessed and refreshed ready to head back out to their patch of Kingdom, fighting fit and raring to go! We’ve seen children learn to swim, married couples have babies they never thought they would be able to have, ministries envisioned, ministries saved, marriages saved, addictions broken, songs and books written, people receive inner and outer healing.
The road has not been easy though. We have found that when you support those on the front-line, you put yourself on the front-line. We have had seasons of the most vicious spiritual attack. However, when the going gets tough, we know we are in God’s will – kingdom stakes run high.
We don’t know how much longer this ministry will continue, but for now we are overjoyed to serve the Lord and His front-line leaders in this way.
We’d love to see you and hear your stories of how God is working and transforming lives. We’re here to bless you but more often than not, we feel totally blessed by our guests and praise God for each one who comes and finds His peace and rest in the beautiful valley God has placed us in.