Churches in north Farnham have said farewell to two much-loved priests at a Sunday service to mark their retirement. 

St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, was filled with people from the parish and beyond, some of whom have known Rev’ds Lesley and Alan Crawley from the beginning of their ministry in Badshot Lea and Hale in November 2011.

Among the well-wishers was Rt Rev’d Paul Davies, Bishop of Dorking, who presided at the service and spoke about how blessed the parish had been to have had ‘two for the price of one’ with Lesley and Alan.

Bishop Paul said he would “give his right arm” for a mind like Alan’s. Alan is a tech expert who set up systems to ensure that the large parish with three churches – St Mark’s, St John’s and St George’s – could run smoothly.

The bishop said: “The worse thing you can ever say to Lesley is ‘I just don’t think that’s possible’ because she’ll prove to you that it is.”

Alan and Lesley farewell cake and order of service
Alan and Lesley farewell cake and order of service (Photo supplied)

Lesley has restored ‘Emily’, the Edwardian organ and the Kitty Milroy murals – works of national significance – at St Mark’s, and transforming the parish’s finances.

Rev’d Stella Wiseman, a priest in the parish, said: “Lesley and Alan have served the parish with astonishing generosity and skill and we are hugely grateful to them and wish them every happiness – and a good rest – in the next stage of their lives. 

“The parish is in good shape thanks to their extremely hard work and we are keen to see who will be our next rector. It’s a large parish with three different but complimentary churches and we are looking for someone who will embrace the inclusive nature of these churches and lead us into our own next stage of life.”

The parish is now ‘in vacancy’ which means that there is no incumbent, but the post will be advertised shortly and the parish hopes a new rector will be appointed this summer.