West Yorkshire vicar retires after 25 years

FOND FAREWELL: Bill Henderson is leaving St Peter's.
FOND FAREWELL: Bill Henderson is leaving St Peter's.
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A vicar will hold his last service tomorrow after serving his community for almost a quarter of a century.

Rev Bill Henderson, 65, vicar at St Peter’s Church in Stanley, Wakefield, says he will miss the people of the village more than anything.

He said: “In 24 years you build up significant relationships. We won’t lose touch but it will be different moving out of the parish and being further away. I think having been here so long we are known and we will miss that.

“In Stanley, the local industry of mining, canals and railway stopped a long time ago but it’s still a community where people are good at looking after each other.”

Rev Henderson decided to change his career while working as a civil engineer in East Africa. He said: “In Africa the church is seen at forefront of development and good ideas.

“Here it is seen as a bit irrelevant and out of date but I was inspired in Africa seeing what the church can do to help local communities and I wanted to do that here. Not create clean water but to enhance lives.”

He said working with the community choir, lunch club, and the knit and natter group were among the highlights of his time in Stanley, as well as the close bonds with he formed with parishioners “from bereavements to baptisms”.

After his arrival in 1993 he spent a significant amount of time trying to renovate an old church building at the site that eventually had to be demolished.

He said it was difficult for many people in the village to “lose a landmark”.

Rev Henderson will retire to Denby Dale with his wife, Viv.

A bring and share lunch will be held after the service, followed by a drop-in afternoon 1pm-4pm to say goodbye.