THERE were fond farewells at Sandford last weekend.

The Rev Paul Fillery conducted his last services as Priest-in-Charge of Sandford and Upton Hellions in the diocese of Exeter.

Paul, who was ordained priest at Exeter Cathedral on September 30, 2012 is leaving the parish to be Priest-in-Charge of Martock, Somerset, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

He was previously a self-supporting minister with an osteopathic practice in Crediton but in November 2016 was appointed Priest at Sandford.

Suzie Erdbrink, on behalf of the congregation at Sandford said that the news that Paul, Tracey and their dog Finn, were moving on to pastures new was met with great sadness by his parishioners.

She explained: “Paul has served the community of Sandford for four-and-a-half years and in that time became a much loved and respected member of our community.

“On the second Sunday after Easter the Rev Paul Fillery gave his final service to his congregation at St Swithun’s  Church Sandford.”

Suzie explained that at the end of the service Linda Bennett-Smith, churchwarden of St Swithun’s presented Paul and his wife Tracey with farewell gifts from the community.  

“A beautiful ‘St Swithun’s Rose’ by David Austen in a lovely pot was presented, together with a clock that had been made by Chris Tucker, also a Churchwarden at St Swithun’s.  The clock had been modelled on the St Swithun’s church clock.

“A lovely print of Sandford was also given, serving as a perfect memento of their time here.

“The monetary donations that they received from friends at St Swithun’s and the Benefice will be used towards purchasing some patio furniture for their new home in Somerset.”

Rev Paul said: “We had a wonderful final service at St Swithun’s Church on Sunday.

“It was very moving to see so many people gathered to wish us well, and we were overwhelmed by the thoughtful gifts and incredible generosity of people in the Parish and the wider Benefice.

“It has been a joy to journey with you all and serve in such a wonderful place, and we leave with so many happy memories.

“We both send you all our love and prayers for God’s every blessing for the days and months to come."