CHEADLE'S Parish Priest has announced that he is retiring.
Father Ian Thurston has been the rector of St Giles The Abbot Church in Cheadle and St Chad's in Freehay since December 2000.
He will be retiring at the end of April due to ill health and his last service will take place on Sunday, April 28.
He said: “It has been a wonderful experience for me to be rector of these two communities.
“I’m enormously happy to have met such wonderful people and have had the immense privilege to be their parish priest.
“It is with some sadness that I have had to do this. but I am making the way for a new rector to come on board with new leadership and hopefully the people of Cheadle and Freehay with embrace that.
“I can’t begin to explain how many people I have married, baptised and laid to rest.
“I have also had the privilege of having a wonderful church school, Bishop Rawle, which has played a main part in my life here.”
Father Thurston was previously a teacher working in North London for 12 years before he was ordained aged 36.
He also taught in the middle east.
He added: “It is a vocation which grew over many years.
“I was always brought up to go to church and always had a belief in God and my calling eventually came when I was 36.
“During the past 10 months I have been blessed with wonderful church wardens Jane Harrison, Gill Snow and Stuart Williams, who have organised cover for services and running the parish without me.
“I leave the parish with a heavy heart and mixed emotions, but I leave it far better than when I found it.”