Cleric, Broadcaster, Author and former Communard
Reverend Richard Coles is a Church of England parish priest and co-presents BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live. He presented two series of BBC One’s The Big Painting Challenge and is a regular contributor to television and radio. He is also a prolific writer and regularly engages with his near-400k followers on Twitter.
What Richard Coles's clients say
"The Rev Richard Coles was brilliant, a lovely man and his speech was interesting and entertaining, witty and humorous. He was also really good afterwards talking to and having pictures with many of the audience."
"We wanted to say a massive thank you for all your assistance with organising Reverend Richard Coles for our Social Impact Spotlight Event. We would like to pass on and say a massive thank you for his exceptional keynote speech at the event. The audience feedback has been fantastic and we look forward to continuing on and highlighting this important discussion."
"On behalf of the M&G Pride Committee, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation both to Reverend Richard Coles and you for a fantastic anniversary event. We really enjoyed the evening, Richard’s talk, and the really great conversation with everyone."
"Your address was wonderful – full of humanity, humility and humour, and life affirming in so many ways. You have an amazing gift for affirming the spiritual in us – which is particularly uplifting, I think, for those who work with (some) young people who can express a thoughtless and casual dismissal of anything not material! And it was so good to hear of the amazing lives you have led: of your courage and your generosity, your positivity, and your care for others. It really was inspirational."
"I just wanted to pass on our hugest thank you to Reverend Richard Coles. He was an absolutely fantastic host, and our colleagues loved having him host our awards. Everyone has commented on how warm, funny and friendly he was, and he was happy to spend time chatting to people who were delighted he took the time to listen, ask their names and generally just be lovely. Please do tell him how appreciative we are and what a pleasure it was to have him. Thank you for all your help in making it happen."
"We were delighted with Richard Coles' presentation, it was amusing, well delivered and appropriate for the day. We also appreciated the efforts he made to network with our guests before his presentation."
"The BSIA usually invites a politician, journalist or someone from the security industry to deliver the keynote speech at the industry's leading awards ceremony however this year we decided to go left-of-field and choose the only Church of England priest with a number one hit record and wow did we make the right choice! Reverend Richard Coles blew everybody's socks off with his fabulous anecdotes from his life. From forming The Communards to becoming ordained, he had the whole audience in stitches as he recalled his time on the 80's pop scene, his journey into church life and his time on the dance floor of Strictly Come Dancing. Richard proved a real hit with the guests and I would recommend him in a heartbeat. His fabulous charm, wit and personality won everybody over"
"On behalf of the Chairman, Executive Committee and members of the ISBA, may I simply say an enormous thank you for taking the time to come and speak to us at our conference dinner in the Celtic Manor Resort. It was good to meet you and I hope that you enjoyed the occasion. We certainly appreciated your most amusing speech, which undoubtedly contributed to an outstanding dinner for our members and guests. The Executive Committee and Secretariat have absolutely no doubt that one of the key elements underpinning this success is the quality of speakers we have for the various events. It has been generally accepted that this been our most successful conference and the feedback we have received so far from our members and guests has been outstanding. Your after-dinner speech undoubtedly helped contribute to this."
"Thank you as always for your support in making the BMA Foundation awards night a success. I have had lots of positive feedback about Reverend Richard Coles from our guests. They commented on how usually speakers have a set 5 minutes about their background, another 10 on their current work and then may be 5 minutes with a tenuous link to the cause of the night, but with Richard he had clearly put much thought into what he was going to say and he threaded in the link between medicine and religion extremely well. Some doctors said it reaffirmed for them why they decided to study medicine. Richard was very easy going and approachable and our guests enjoyed meeting him very much. As you know this is a very high profile event and we think Richard Coles is one of, if not the best, speaker we have had."
"Reverend Richard Coles, as you would expect, produced an excellent start to our morning session at conference and it quickly became apparent how popular his BBC radio programme is amongst our delegates. His friendly, matter of fact approach was appreciated by everyone. It was a pleasure to host him and I would appreciate your conveying to him my best wishes."
"Reverend Coles was a pleasure to work with, he was an event manager’s dream. He rehearsed as requested. Delivered what we asked for and more. It was great to have a host who didn’t just read from the script. He added in a number of funny one liners which related to the audience."
"After dinner speaker, the Reverend Richard Coles was absolutely brilliant! We had a really good evening, he was really well received by the audience but ahead of that, he mixed with us all before dinner and weaved in things he had clearly picked up from conversation into his speech which was just. He absolutely made the evening."
"I just wanted to thank you so much for all your help and involvement in last night’s talk. Reverend Richard Coles was absolutely brilliant and with Cerys [Matthews] interviewing him it was a perfect fit. Everyone was engrossed with his brilliant and often very humorous stories, just such a charming man to listen to with a fascinating story. We have received such lovely feedback from both members who attended and staff."
"What an event, what a speaker. We knew how fabulous it was having attended but the amount of emails of joy and gratitude we have received is overwhelming. Thank you, thank you."
"It was an absolute pleasure working with Richard – he managed to strike just the right note with our audience and if the number of selfie requests was anything to go by, he was our most popular host to date!"
"Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your expert hosting at this year’s Everyday Heroes. We have received wonderful feedback about the evening which is thanks, in no small part, to the role you played on stage that night. The stories we heard highlight how the brave and selfless actions of St John Ambulance trained first aiders and volunteers are saving lives and supporting communities every day. We hope you were also able to enjoy the evening celebrating all our incredible winners and nominees – thank you for helping to ensure everything ran so smoothly, for your inspiring words and good humour."
"I thought I would write, while we are still enjoying the afterglow, to thank you so much for your appearance at the Northern Aldborough Festival last Wednesday. It was fascinating, and in places very moving, to hear you recount your extraordinary life story, but it was also wonderful to discover on meeting you that you are every bit as warm, patient and amusing in the flesh as in a public setting. You really made my children feel included in the talk, no small feat, and they will have more football questions for you if they meet you again! We have had so many positive comments from the audience about the talk, and I do hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we all did!"
Richard Coles's 2022 biography
Richard Coles’ background
The Reverend Richard Coles is a Church of England priest in the quintessentially English village of Finedon, Northamptonshire, where two of his ancestors were Vicars in the seventeenth century. However, in complete contrast, more than a quarter of a century ago Richard was the instrumentalist half of pop band the Communards, together with Jimmy Somerville.
During the 1980s The Communards had three UK Top 10 hits, including Never Can Say Goodbye and the biggest-selling single of 1986, Don’t Leave Me This Way. This, therefore, affords him the unique position of being the world’s only vicar to have had a No.1 hit record.
Since 2011, Richard has been a co-presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live and is also a regular contributor to ‘Pause for Thought’ on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show. He is a frequent guest panellist on shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You? and QI.
Often described as Britain’s most famous vicar, Richard was the inspiration for the main character in the BBC hit comedy Rev, a programme for which he also served as consultant.
In 2017, Richard was a contestant on the BBC’s BAFTA-winning prime-time show Strictly Come Dancing, and the year previous he was a semi-finalist on Celebrity Masterchef. He has a keen interest in classical music, art and ceramics, and co-hosted the BBC’s Big Painting Challenge alongside Mariella Frostrup in 2017 and 2018.
Richard Coles grew up in Northamptonshire and attended a minor public school where he was a chorister and, to his horror, realised he was gay. As a young adult he subsequently moved to London to work as a session musician in theatre. In 1983 he joined pop group Bronski Beat as a sax player where he met Jimmy Somerville. The following year, Jimmy and Richard left to form the Communards.
Success came fast and they had the UK’s biggest-selling single of 1986, but Richard was not at ease with the sudden fame. He was the gawky, bespectacled, musically trained geek who physically towered over the extrovert Somerville, but was otherwise lost in his friend’s shadow. Friction grew, and it was against this backdrop of drug-fuelled arguments that Richard invented a deception which ultimately drove him away from his career in pop music and towards a more fulfilling vocation to God.
In 1990, after attending a mass at St Alban’s, Richard Coles was suddenly inspired with a new found faith. He took a theology degree at King’s College, London, before returning to Northamptonshire where he began to seriously consider taking holy orders. After ten years as a Roman Catholic he reverted to Anglicanism, and in 2005 Richard was ordained into the Anglican priesthood.
Since 2011, Richard has been on the board of Wellingborough Homes, a social enterprise that provides housing and community support for the Borough of Wellingborough. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Northampton and is a Fellow in the Royal Society of Arts.
In 2017, he was elected a Fellow of King’s College London and Chancellor of the University of Northampton. In 2019, he was appointed Honorary Chaplain to the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers.
As an author, Reverend Richard Coles has written five books including three memoirs; the best selling Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpits (2014), Bringing in The Sheaves: Wheat and Chaff from My Years as a Priest (2016) and Sunday Times bestseller The Madness of Grief (2021), all published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
His work as a broadcaster, priest and formative years in the music industry make Richard a delightfully entertaining, articulate and very funny after dinner speaker; recalling many extraordinary and humorous anecdotes of his journey from pop star to priest.
He is also regularly in demand to host corporate and industry award dinners and delivers keynote speeches on topics such as trust, ethics, mental health, corporate social responsibility, diversity & inclusion and LGBTQ+.
Richard Coles's 2022 talks & topics
After Dinner Speaker – “From Pop Star To Parson”
Having addressed audiences as diverse as local Government Ministers in Marlow and world-renown practitioners of the British Medical Association, to international travel agents in Abu Dhabi and an association of car fleet managers, Richard has refined a highly original, humorous and captivating after-dinner speech that will appeal to all audiences.
There aren’t many Church of England priests that can claim to have had a British Number 1 hit single… in fact, to-date, the Reverend Richard Coles is the one and only, as part of the highly successful pop duo the Communards.
In his popular after-dinner speech, From Pop Star To Parson, Richard Coles tells a story that is as real as it is unlikely.
He connects the euphoria and mayhem of being ‘Top of The Pops’ in the 80s — which resonates with audiences of that era — to his present circumstances as Church of England priest, radio broadcaster, television presenter and author — which resonates with all sorts of people — and enables him to reach a wide audience, answering amongst many burning questions, “How do you go from pop star to priest? And why?”
Life of a Thoroughly Modern Parson
Adventures and Misadventures in Dance
Richard Coles's 2022 speaking fees
- United Kingdom
Specific fees fall within the ranges shown. These are presented as a guide only and are subject to change without notice.
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