A CLERGYMAN who has been serving the parishes of Storridge, Mathon and Cradley for 26 years is hanging up his cassock.

Rev Mike Vockins is retiring at the end of June from his role as honorary curate to the three parishes, which started after he was ordained at Hereford Cathedral in June 1988.

At the time he was secretary of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, and he combined both roles until he stood down from the club in 2001.

He said: “It has been an immense privilege serving the parishes and people. It’s been good fun, getting involved in so many aspects of community life, and our parishioners have been very kind and so supportive, as have the four rectors under whom I’ve served.

Of his dual role with the parishes and the club, he said: “The diocese was very keen that as well as serving the parishes I should develop a ministry through my work.

"Doors have been opened and opportunities to minister in other situations have arisen which wouldn’t otherwise have occurred if I’d been restricted solely to parish ministry.”

Mr Vockins, aged 69, also served as rural dean of Ledbury for eleven years, part-time chaplain to Hereford Sixth Form College for four years, and was made a prebendary of Hereford Cathedral in 2009.

But he says retirement will hardly mean he will be idle.

He said: "It’s true I shan’t have the regular round of services but I shall be continuing four or five other roles within the Diocese.

"Within cricket, I shall still be involved with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s major match group and with running the Hornsby Trust, which helps former professional cricketers who’ve hit difficult times.

"It will be good to have time to watch more cricket at New Road, and there are three or four more books I’d like to write. But, with my wife Eileen, I’m most looking forward to seeing more of our daughters and our four grandchildren. It doesn’t seem there’ll be much chance of getting bored.”

His farewell service is in Cradley church on Sunday, June 29, at 3pm. All are welcome.