Long-serving church team are rock of ages

Canon Alan Craig, Canon Dennis Winter, Rev Colin Perkins and Rev Paul Scott.
Canon Alan Craig, Canon Dennis Winter, Rev Colin Perkins and Rev Paul Scott.

Together, they add up to a grand old age – 206, to be precise – but a team of north Northumberland vicars still have a spring in their step.

And there are now plans to celebrate a centenary notched up between just two of the clerics connected to St Michael’s Church in Alnwick.

Canons Alan Craig and Dennis Winter have both marked 50 years of priesthood and, while both are officially retired, they still play an enormously active role at the place of worship.

But when you add in the time served so far by colleagues of the cloth Martin Gillham, his wife Pat, Colin Perkins and incumbant vicar Rev Paul Scott, it takes the tally to over two centuries.

Rev Scott said: “Vicars never really retire and this is quite evident at St Michael’s, where I am ably assisted on a regular basis by five retired clergy who either live in the parish or have made their spiritual home here.

“Recently, two of them, Canon Alan Craig and Canon Dennis Winter, each celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their ordination to the priesthood.

“But a quick look in Crockford’s Clerical Directory revealed that when the other retired clergy at St Michael’s – Rev Colin Perkins and Revs Martin and Pat Gillham – are placed into the equation along with myself, we have have amassed an amazing 206 years of priestly service to the Church of England.”

Rev Scott has served all of his ordained ministry in the Diocese of Newcastle – starting at North Shields, Shiremoor and now in Alnwick.

He was welcomed to his new post in June in a special service for his induction attended by Martin Wharton, Bishop of Newcastle.

But for nearly 20 years before becoming a man of the cloth, Paul’s work dealt with profits rather than prophets.

The 55-year-old served at the heart of local government as an accountant in the borough treasury of North Tyneside Council, before moving on to the NHS, where he was chief accountant for the Northern Regional Health Authority.

And his colleagues who now minister as part of the St Michael’s family have given service, not only in this part of the world, but also the Dioceses of Lichfield, York, Manchester, Exeter, Canterbury, Rochester, Southwell and Oxford.

St Michael’s hosts its Harvest Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, with an auction of produce at 7.15pm in the Parish Hall after Evensong.