When the Rev Chris Hill announced he would be retiring, he was adamant he didn’t want any fuss but the congregation of St Mary’s Parish Church had other ideas and have planned a farewell party for him on April 29.

Chris and his wife Debbie have spent 10 years in Ely and are moving to Sussex.

Retirement comes six months after the completion of the project to turn the interior of St Mary’s medieval church building from ‘Sunday only use’ to a multi-purpose space for use by the whole community, seven days a week.

Rev Hill has paid tribute to the energetic and far-sighted members of the congregation who he says "made it happen".

"If you walk past the noticeboard outside St Mary’s, or look on the church website, you might see the message ‘whoever you are, wherever you come from, you are welcome here’.

"Those are the values we share, and I've witnessed St Mary’s becoming more inclusive and diverse."

"As an example is ChristChurch which is flourishing in the north of Ely, the area of the city where so much development is taking place.

"It is led by lay people who have established special links with the newly opened Isle of Ely Primary School and the sheltered accommodation for the elderly nearby."

There are now three congregations at St Mary’s every Sunday morning: the Eight15, the Nine45 and the Eleven15, as well as a Thursday morning market day communion service.

During the week, Warm Space takes place on Wednesday mornings and will continue into Spring. 

“We will both miss Ely very much indeed. I will always be grateful for the guidance that brought us here,” said Rev Hill.

Chris’ last services will be on Sunday,  April 30 at 8.15am, 9.45am and 11.15am at St Mary’s, and at 4pm at Christchurch.

For more information about St Mary’s go to: stmarysely.org.