THE Church of England in Lancashire is to get its first female Bishop following the appointment of Dr Jill Duff.

The Bolton-born 45-year-old will become the Bishop of Lancaster in the Diocese of Blackburn, 10 Downing Street announced today.

She will become one of two junior 'Suffragan' Bishops in the county, along with Burnley's Rt Rev Philip North, working under the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson.

It is a major change in a Diocese whose Bishops did not even ordain woman priests until June 2014.

Dr Duff will be consecrated at York Minster on June 29, succeeding the Rt Rev Geoff Pearson who retired last July, before taking up her duties.

The Rt Rev. Henderson said: “Bishop Philip and I are delighted to welcome Jill as a new member of the episcopal team here in the Diocese.

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“She comes to us with a wealth of experience, a passion for prayer and for spreading the Gospel.

“I want to make it clear that I see Jill’s appointment as another sign that the Anglican Church in Lancashire is modelling the principles of ‘mutual flourishing’ in the Church of England.

“I will soon have a female episcopal colleague alongside another from the traditionalist Catholic constituency who will both serve the whole Diocese and will have my wholehearted support in carrying out their important work."

The Rt Rev North, who last year withdrew from his promotion to Bishop of Sheffield, after protests over his refusal to ordain women priests, also welcomed his new colleague.

He said: "I am looking forward to having Jill in her new role. I am convinced that she will support and encourage Anglicans in Lancashire of all traditions."

Dr Duff said: "I am thrilled and humbled to be appointed the eighth Bishop of Lancaster. This is a vibrant and exciting part of the Church of England.

“I’ve been attracted by the sheer variety of Blackburn Diocese.

“I understand and respect the position of my brothers and sisters in Christ who do not accept the ministry of ordained women in leadership.

“There is so much more that unites than divides us.”

Dr Duff is married to Rev. Prof. Jeremy Duff, Principal of the St Padarn’s Institute in the Church in Wales, and they have two sons, Robbie, aged 13 and Harry, aged 10.

She went to Bolton School before studying at Christ College, Cambridge and Worcester College, Oxford. Several years in the oil industry followed before training for the ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

She is currently the founding Director of the St Mellitus College, North West, which offers the first full-time ordination course in the North West for more than 40 years.

Dr Duff was introduced by the Rt Rev Henderson at Marsh Community Centre, Lancaster, this morning before moving on to Blackburn Cathedral and St James’ Lower Darwen home to the Diocese’s new Leadership Hub aimed at supporting deprived urban estates in Lancashire.