Pagham church-goers say goodbye to popular vicar

The Rev Keith Smith takes his final service at St Thomas a'Becket Church
The Rev Keith Smith takes his final service at St Thomas a'Becket Church

Church-goers in Pagham have said a sad farewell to their vicar.

About 260 people of all ages filled St Thomas a’Becket Church for the goodbye to the Rev Keith Smith.

The younger members of the congregation presented Mr Smith with a selection of items they had made to celebrate the decade he had spent there.

The service on Sunday was followed by a parish lunch at Pagham Village Hall attended by some 200 people.

Mr Smith was given a book of photographs to mark his time at St Thomas a’Becket and a sizeable cheque.

Trudi Kearsley, one of the churchwardens, said: “We tried to concentrate on a celebration of Keith’s time with us rather than a farewell. But emotions did run high and there were a lot of tears.

“Keith made a big impact on all our lives. He inspired us to work together as a church community, he encouraged us to take part in community events and to take the church into the community.”

Mr Smith joined the 12th-century church after the long-serving Rev John Maynard stepped down following 30 years there.

His successor will be appointed after an inter-regnum when a rota of visiting ministers and a retired minister living in the area will take services. Parish life will continue as normal.