Retiring Vicar of Leighton Buzzard says it will be hard to walk away

Rev Canon Grant Felllows
Rev Canon Grant Felllows

The Rev Canon Grant Fellows retires this week as Vicar of All Saints Leighton Buzzard and Rector of the Ouzel Valley Team of churches (Linslade, Hockliffe, Billington, Eggington and The Good Shepherd in Sandhills).

His last service will be a Parish Eucharist in All Saints at 11.15am on Sunday (September 30) to which all are invited. He was inducted to the post in November 2003, becoming the town’s 59th Vicar, in a line which stretches back to Thomas de Kyrlington in 1277.

“At the time I was conscious of the many who have gone before me as Vicar, who have been involved with the spiritual and material life of the community and of the privilege of worshipping in such an historic and beautiful building”, he said.

Canon Grant was not new to the area, he had been Vicar of St Leonard’s Heath and Reach in the 1980s prior to moving to be Vicar of Radlett in Hertfordshire. He has been well liked, with a sense of fun matching an outgoing personality, leading some to be surprised at his deep empathy for those who have need of counselling or spiritual support. He always had the right word for the occasion.

During his time All Saints has dealt with up to a thousand funerals, some 600 weddings and more than 1,000 christenings. It has also seen the completion of a major restoration programme and developed its work with children and young families, both through the church and by working closely with Pulford School.

He will clearly be missed and his departure will move the church into a period of vacancy until his successor is appointed, which will probably be early next year.

He was asked for some reflections on his time in Leighton Buzzard and said: “I am sad to be going but feel the job needs new energy and new vision for it to move into the next phase of its life. It will be hard for me to walk away, but I think this is the right time to go as I can feel myself flagging. I have been very happy meeting and working with many wonderful and committed people who have supported me along the way; they and the church building are very special. I shall miss the worship at All Saints which is of the highest quality; reverent, respectful and appealing to all the senses. To have a choir of a standard able to sing the services at some of our greatest cathedrals is a huge asset. It is also good to see the church building so well used for worship and for community events.

“It has been especially enjoyable to work with Pulford school and with its head teacher, who has deepened its relationship with All Saints in so many ways. I hope this carries on. I have also been grateful that much of the heavy work relating to the huge restoration project we have endured for so many of my years here, was taken off my shoulders. Too many incumbents of ancient churches become virtual fund raisers and project managers, I have been spared this.”

The Vicar is now looking forward to a rest, but with his zest for life restored, it is doubtful if retirement will be confined to growing cucumbers and the early Sunday service.