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A NEWLY-ordained curate with Otter Vale Ministry team has spoken of his hairy experiences in Afghanistan when it was ruled by the Taliban.

A NEWLY-ordained curate with Otter Vale Ministry team has spoken of his 'hairy' experiences in Afghanistan when it was ruled by the Taliban.

The Reverend Howard Govier, one of 13 ordained at Exeter Cathedral by Bishop Michael Langrish two weeks ago, was briefly held at gunpoint by two "Kalashnikov-toting young Talibs" on one visit while he was general secretary of a Christian NGO (non-governmental organisation) that brought relief to countless poor and handicapped people there.

"They were from a fairly uneducated village of young men and some couldn't even tell the time," said Howard, 70, who lives with Jill, his wife of 43 years, in Seafield Avenue, Exmouth.

"There were curfews in the evening and they would guess the time. We were held up, with the driver, by them and asked what nationality we were as they hate the Americans.

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"The driver was American Dutch. He mentioned his tribe from Holland. I was let go because I was British."

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"We taught young mothers basic hygiene bringing up children. When Jill and I were out there we visited one family with five children. Four of them were already blind and the baby of 10 months had infected eyes. It was heart-rending stuff."

Born in Exeter, Howard has lived in Exmouth most of his life and joined his father Dudley, at the age of 23, in a law firm which soon became Govier and Govier.

"I had a calling to the Church and was up to my ears in church leadership."

Still working as a solicitor, it got to the stage where he had to choose what course to take, and chose to remain in church leadership, first with an independent church, then at Littleham.

"I got more and more involved and have been ever since," he said.

Of the 13 churches in the Otter Vale Ministry, Howard is focusing on five, assisting vicar, the Reverend Mark Ward, at Newton Poppleford, Tipton St John, Venn Ottery, Harpford and Colaton Raleigh.

His first service with the team was at Newton Poppleford, and on Sunday week he will preach at Tipton.

"I really enjoy it, I have met a lovely bunch of people in the three churches I have managed to visit so far and am looking forward to getting to know everybody," said Howard, whose non-stipendiary duties are for three days a week and three Sundays a month.

Howard is running at 10-week Christianity Explored course, with meal, at Newton Poppleford church hall.

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