A PACKED church said a fond farewell to a much-loved vicar in Lee-on-the-Solent, marking the end of his 19 years of service.
The Rev Canon Peter Sutton was thanked for his long service at St Faith’s, in Victoria Square, by a congregation of more than 300 people from across the community on Sunday.
Representatives from the council, local schools and the residents’ association gave gifts to Mr Sutton, thanking him for his service.
Officiating for the final time at the church before his move to become Archdeacon on the Isle of Wight, Mr Sutton held a Eucharist service, along with a parish celebration and service of thanksgiving.
He said: ‘It was an opportunity to say goodbye after 19 years.
‘I was overcome, it’s been a huge privilege to be in one place for such a long time.
‘You get to know families through baptisms, weddings and funerals – all three I’ve done for some families.
‘I’m not just leaving parishioners but friends too – it’s as hard as walking out on family.’
Mr Sutton said he has also enjoyed being part of the wider community outside of the church.
He has previously held the position of chairman of governors at Lee-on-the-Solent Junior School, in Salisbury Terrace, and has been the Mayor of Gosport’s Chaplain three times.
The council also awarded him the honorary role of Chaplain Emeritus.
Lee-on-the-Solent Residents’ Association thanked Mr Sutton with a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Ray Harding, a committee member of the association, was present at the service.
He said: ‘He has always involved himself in the community, he’s always been there for people irrespective of whether it has been a time of grief or happiness.
‘From a church point of view he’s a star.
‘The position is now vacant and whoever comes in has got a hard act to follow.
‘One of the things is his humour, he has got a fantastic skill in lifting people’s spirits.’
Mr Sutton will take up the role of Archdeacon on the Isle of Wight in a ceremony at Portsmouth Cathedral on Saturday, November 10 at 5pm.
He will offer leadership to vicars on the island.