For 40 years Anthony Weston has brought the courage of his Christian convictions to the county's courts. As Anthony considers calling time on the bar, he tells the Hereford Times how his faith has kept pace with his profession - and where it will take him next.

This is a case of unmistakable identity, made on anecdotal evidence.

Anthony Weston is charged with advocacy. He expects... another five years. To run concurrent with the previous 40 spent as a defence solicitor in the county. By then he thinks he will have had enough 'time in' to take a new direction.

A recently acquired degree lets him lecture in theology. And, on turning 70, that is what he will do, probably what his life has always had him headed towards.

The Cambridge graduate and Mensa member - who recently added Hindi to his eight languages so he could address a young colleague's wedding - lives comfortably with his twin disciplines.


He will claim criminal law and theology have plenty in common, both being based on complex, often arcane, understandings of what are, essentially, evidential philosophies.

As a committed Baptist and lay preacher Anthony has always seen God as much more than an existential entity for his profession to - purportedly - put its trust in. Rather, it is he who feels entrusted. Leading the 'best friend' that he can never remember being without to the location of the least person - those whom society shuts out and away.

Forty years as an advocate have shown Anthony revelations reflected in familiar faces each time that he attends court. The faces - some once seemed so much fresher in his Sunday school classes - of: "human beings who, like all the rest of us, express the frailties and weaknesses which we all recognise as the inevitable part of being human - sinners for whom Christ died."

Predictability is the highest compliment Anthony can pay his profession, expressed in the routine of leaving his office for court at about 9.30am every weekday. Up St Owen Street to St Peter's Square, along Union Street and across Bath Street. He has known these surrounds since childhood when his parents - like his grandparents - kept a shop in Commercial Street. Once he walked here in the uniform of Hereford Cathedral School. Now he sports his 'trademark' bowler hats and waistcoat suit with pocket square.

Attire is not only this gentleman's relish but, as he cannily confesses, his best form of advertising.

He covers the short distance between office and court with the same sense of purpose - and initial idealism - that first lead him to the law. A well-worn route other advocates have long since stopped taking, finding far better remuneration in work that does not put them inside police stations over the early hours or setting out on wet winter mornings to crave a court's indulgence of yet another adjournment.

Anthony has no regrets. The walk keeps his vocation alongside his faith taking him to 'people in crisis, people who need help, people whose lives I could influence'.

His son, Clive, followed these footsteps - again via Cathedral School and Cambridge - but to London where he practises as a barrister. They steered Anthony's teacher daughter Shirley into missionary training and have her sister Catriona on the way to a sociology degree.

The evident pride in his own children vies with 'delight' at seeing those younger advocates who have shared his chambers over the years succeed. He hopes he has given them something to take on their way - if only as a guide to getting there.

For consistency he has his wife Rosemary and 36 years of marriage. He knew her when she was two and he six. Their parents were friends.

He has his city, Hereford, home for 60 years. And the knowledge that a legal life doesn't have to be spent fighting for the final verdict. The courage of conviction can be enough.