A gulf war veteran who fronted a punk rock band and triumphed on one of daytime TV’s toughest quizzes has been ordained as a Church of Scotland minister in Perthshire.
Father-of-four Craig Dobney was inducted in to Comrie linked with Dundurn churches at a ceremony on Wednesday night.
The 54-year-old former RAF avionics engineer, who won an episode of The Weakest Link in 2010, said he was looking forward to the fresh challenges.
Reverend Dobney, who joined the air force in 1984 and served for 22 years, said: “At a time when life is so difficult for so many people, I feel so honoured to be called to serve the communities of Comrie and St Fillans.”
He said: “This is a time that God seems to be moving his Church from a period of survival into a period of revival in which church and community work together hand in hand to ensure that no individual, no group is left outside in the darkness and the cold and the loneliness that is so often experienced in these days of Covid-19.”
The son of a Baptist minister, Rev Dobney grew up in Perthshire and is married to Donna-Kerri. The couple have four children, Laura, Steffi, Daniel and Liam, and four grandchildren, Olivia, Logan, Robyn and Chase.
He served with 43 Squadron at RAF Leuchars in Fife and saw active service in far flung places across the globe including the Falklands, Middle East and Baltic region.
The former engineer said serving in both the 1990 and 2003 Gulf wars “enhanced” his faith.
Recalling his tour of duty in 1990, Rev Dobney said: “I was an engineer on the ground based in Saudi Arabia with XI Sqn Tornado F3s.
“I fixed the radar, navigation fly by wire and weapons aiming systems but I also assisted in loading the missiles and the guns.”
He said: “It was certainly a time when I returned to a deep faith in God and facing up to the fragility of one’s own mortality gives you a sense of what is important in life; as does the thought that the weapons you had just loaded could be used to kill others.”
Rev Dobney said the call to ministry properly developed several years later when he worked as a senior manager with Air Service Training (AST), based at Perth College.
“I had a trip to Khartoum in Sudan in 2014 to complete a million-pound deal with a government-owned training organisation,” he said. “Our vehicle stopped at a set of traffic lights where a number of very young children, aged around six-10, came over to us selling little plastic toys.
“They needed the money to feed themselves and their families.”
Rev Dobney said: “It was heart breaking and the point when it became loud and clear that God was calling me to do something that would enable me to serve Him and serve the needs of others.”
A keen golfer and Raith Rovers season ticket holder, Rev Dobney holds a business studies degree from the Open University and a degree in Divinity from New College in Edinburgh.
In his younger days, he worked as a radio and nightclub DJ in his spare time and fronted a band called The Grind which performed covers of punk and heavy rock in pubs and clubs on and off base at RAF Leeming at Northallerton, North Yorkshire.