Justin Welby: Those who bet on me should donate winnings

By John McManus
BBC News

media captionThe Rt Rev Justin Welby: "We may not like that food centres are necessary, but they are and they need paying for"

The next Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested people who made money by correctly betting on his appointment should donate their winnings to parish churches.

The Rt Rev Justin Welby made the call on the social networking site, Twitter.

Ladbrokes, which suspended betting after a flurry of bets placed on Bishop Welby's name, has now said it will donate £1,000 to Canterbury Cathedral.

The bishop was named as the next head of the Church of England on Friday.

Bishop Welby is currently responsible for the diocese of Durham, but will take on the Church of England's most senior post at a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral - the seat of the archbishop - on 21 March 2013.

The current archbishop, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, retires next month after 10 years in the role.

Earlier, Bishop Welby said that departing his diocese of Durham would leave "a great gap" in his life.

"You can't leave Durham Diocese happily. Nobody has in the past," he said in a clip on YouTube.

"When Michael Ramsey went to York, famously, he was seen weeping on Durham station and there will be tears about leaving Durham Diocese for me personally."

He also described the run-up to his appointment as a "difficult process" because he could not speak to anyone about it.

'I'm not a horse'

Speculation as to the identity of the next archbishop had been rife in recent months.

On Tuesday, Ladbrokes announced it was suspending all betting on the contenders for the job after a rush of bets being placed on Bishop Welby.

A few hours later, William Hill followed suit.

The suspension of betting led to speculation that some people within both the Church and government already knew that Bishop Welby was going to be appointed, and were trying to make some money from that knowledge.

On Saturday morning, Bishop Welby tweeted: "Thought in the night, those who made money betting on me give it to their local church! I suspect it was less than papers suggest."

However, if the winners follow his suggestion, their local churches should not expect a windfall. Ladbrokes said they paid out only around £2,000 in total.

Ladbrokes announced on Saturday it was making a donation of £1000 to Canterbury Cathedral, saying it hoped to "get the ball rolling" and encourage punters to follow Bishop Welby's plea to donate their winnings.

Helping to pack food parcel donations at an event on Saturday, Bishop Welby hinted at another option for any winnings.

He said: "If you've made money betting on anything at all, I suggest that money ought to go to this project.

"It's a very strange feeling when you find yourself having odds quoted on you at a bookie. Generally speaking I am not a horse - I think that's a really important point to get across."

Bishop Welby is a regular Twitter user and has already confirmed he will continue tweeting in his new role - despite the danger of getting into what he called "deep water".

Unusually, his elevation was also confirmed by a tweet from the prime minister's office which stated: "Downing Street is pleased to announce the appointment of Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury."

The Bishop also indicated that he would continue to speak out on social issues.

He told the BBC that between 40 and 60% of those people who needed food parcels claimed them because of the late delivery of their state benefits.

"It's an extremely complicated area. I'm not blaming anyone, but I think that's something that needs focus," he said.

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