Northern Ireland

WATCH: Ballymena’s ‘pastor paramedic’ Andy Moore

The clergyman combines a full-time parish ministry with working each month as a paramedic

Andy Moore combines careers as both a paramedic and a pastor. PICTURE: CHURCH OF IRELAND
Andy Moore combines careers as both a paramedic and a pastor. PICTURE: CHURCH OF IRELAND

FOR Ballymena cleric Andy Moore, it was witnessing a medical emergency as a child that first inspired him to train as a paramedic.

“My great-grandfather had a heart attack at my little brother’s christening in 1994,” he said.

“I can remember the ambulance arriving and the excitement in the house, for me, of these two men coming in and just taking control, almost like heroes to my very young five-year-old mind.

“From that point, I wanted to do that. I wanted to be that sense of calm that came into a situation.”

Recently appointed as chair of the Christian Ambulance Association, he works two days a month as a paramedic while maintaining his full-time ministry as curate in the Church of Ireland Parish of Kilconriola and Ballyclug.



He left for England at 19, meaning he was able to qualify sooner than in Northern Ireland where the age requirement was 21.

“It was wonderful. I worked in the city centre of Birmingham, so it was the second-busiest ambulance station in the UK.

“Every day went really fast. You learned lots, which was fantastic.”

A calling to life in the church had also been with him since his teenage years.

“I spoke to my home rector who said ‘get life experience.’ That was his big advice, so the ambulance service was ideal for that.”

Andy Moore combines life as both a paramedic and a pastor. PICTURE: CHURCH OF IRELAND
Andy Moore combines life as both a paramedic and a pastor. PICTURE: CHURCH OF IRELAND

Returning to Northern Ireland at 24 and getting married, he said a curate who is now a rector in Broughshane showed him “a different way of doing things”.

“Up until that point, all the clergy I’d met were old men. He was a young man who was leading a church and I thought ‘I like that.’”

On his double career, he said: “People automatically assume you can’t do the two, they don’t go together.

“But they do. Both are mission, both are outreach, both is about helping people in need.

“Quite often the cross-over exists on emergency calls. Once you’ve got the physical side sorted, people maybe need spiritual guidance as well.

He said the reactions on calls to the arrival of a pastor-paramedic varied.

“Quite often people look at you as if ‘are you mad?’

“But I suppose it depends on the situation. If it’s a sudden death, people are very appreciative of prayers and guidance.”

He said other paramedics knew he was “a bit extra, a bit unusual” and left him to it.

His role sees him work by himself in a rapid response vehicle, arriving at the scene first and waiting for backup to arrive.

Parishioners, on the other hand, ask him for medical advice.

“There’s also a nice appreciation that I have done something else. I’m not some 20-year-old coming in, I’m someone whose lived a bit as well.”

Keen to keep going until he gets his long-service medal, he jokes: “I suppose when I’m archbishop I’ll have to give it up.”

Andy Moore has been appointed as chair of the Christian Ambulance Association. PICTURE: CHURCH OF IRELAND
Andy Moore has been appointed as chair of the Christian Ambulance Association. PICTURE: CHURCH OF IRELAND