THE next Archbishop of Canterbury is to guest edit The Northern Echo.

The Right Reverend Justin Welby will return to the editor’s chair on January 10 – almost a year after his first stint, when he was fresh into his current role as Bishop of Durham.

The 56-year-old former oil executive was named as successor to Dr Rowan Williams last month (November). He will be installed as Archbishop of Canterbury in March.

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During his first guest editorship, Bishop Welby made decisions about the paper’s content and wrote a comment piece and a feature.

He also attended a Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, was interviewed by pupils from St Aidan’s CofE Academy and launched the Foundation for Jobs – a project aimed at tackling youth unemployment of which he is patron.

When he returns, the Archbishop Designate is expected to visit a Darlington company which has supported the Foundation and meet school children who have benefitted from it and launch Bike Stop, a new charity aimed at addressing homelessness through recycling old bicycles.

He will also again make decisions about the next morning’s Echo.

Bishop Welby said: “I am delighted to have been asked to guest edit the Echo again in January. They must be very brave letting me do it for a second time.

“Joking aside, it’s a great privilege to be asked to do this to coincide with the first anniversary of the launch of Darlington Foundation for Jobs.

“Regional newspapers like The Northern Echo represent the heart of the communities in which they are present, campaigning for their issues and people, championing the news that makes a difference within them.

“I am pleased to be able to be part of that process from the editor’s perspective and hope that with the understanding that comes from the unique position that the Church of England holds of being present in every community, help to shape and steer news reporting – if only for one day.”

Peter Barron, editor of The Northern Echo, said: “The Northern Echo has had some very illustrious editors during its 143-year history but never before has the future Archbishop of Canterbury sat in the editor’s chair.

“It is a great honour for the paper to have the Bishop of Durham performing this duty before he moves on to become the leading clergyman in the Church of England.”