JOYFUL music and fond farewells by friends marked the end of seven years at the helm of Upper Coquetdale for its outgoing parish priest at the weekend.
Rev Peter Lear and wife Sandra were joined by well-wishers from near and far at All Saints Church in Rothbury on Sunday, followed by a lunch at Thropton Memorial Hall.
The packed church rang with hymns and anthems specially selected for the occasion, reflecting Peter and Sandra’s love of music and singing, after which the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne presented the couple with a painting of Holy Island, a cheque, potted plants and other gifts and cards.
The Archdeacon said: “Peter and Sandra go with much love and prayers from us all to their well deserved retirement in the North Yorkshire Moors. Their joint contribution and their ministry to the community of Upper Coquetdale over the last seven years is deeply appreciated and they will be greatly missed.”
Handing over the keys of Upper Coquetdale’s six churches, Rev Peter reflected on his time in the parish.
“After 31 years in the Army and 12 years as a minister, we shall shortly be moving into our 22nd home and will be pleased to settle in one place,” he said. “But we shall miss you all. Upper Coquetdale has been an amazingly welcoming place, with a great sense of community.
“Today’s service, full of wonderful words and music, has been very moving and, I hope, inspiring as you look forward to the appointment of your new vicar in the autumn.”
Peter paid particular tribute to his wife with warm words of thanks for her unfailing support, endorsed by long-standing PCC member and churchwarden Ken Howey, who also praised Sandra’s tireless work across the whole parish including fund-raising, community transport and the Women’s World Day of Prayer.
Peter and Sandra moved to Rothbury in July 2004, shortly after the Parish of Upper Coquetdale came into being.
They start their retirement in North Yorkshire at the beginning of August.
Earlier this month, Dr Rosie Stacey was ordained for the role by Bishop Martin, Anglican Bishop for the diocese of Newcastle, in ceremony at All Saints.