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Retirement of Revd Philip Brooks



Philip Brooks with his wife Joyce


Philip Brooks, vicar of St Mary’s, Crich, and All Saints, South Wingfield, will be leaving the village in September, for retirement in Durham after twenty two years’ service as vicar here. Philip was licensed as priest-in-charge of St Mary’s in November 1995. During the previous eight years Philip had been vicar of Fulford and Hilderstone, and Chaplain to Stallington Hospital (now closed). St Mary’s patrons, CPAS (Church Pastoral Aid Society), matched Philip to Crich, giving him the opportunity to work with people in a larger community than previously.

Philip arrived in the village when the idea of the Glebe Community Centre was very much alive (instigated by Dr McArthur and Revd John Colbourn) and fundraising for the project was ongoing. The Glebe project became a major part of his role during his first two years in Crich. Building work was simultaneously happening on the Glebe, the new vicarage and on the bungalows in Glebe Field Close, so life in the old vicarage was quite noisy! Philip, Joyce and family moved into the new vicarage in August 1997 and the Glebe Centre opened a month later in September.

Prior to coming to Crich, Philip had known that his role as Priest-in-Charge at St Mary’s would change as soon as All Saints, South Wingfield “lost” its own vicar. Revd Bill Rumble retired in 1998 and Philip’s title became “vicar of Crich and South Wingfield” when the two Parishes became a Benefice.

Throughout his time as vicar, Philip and Joyce have encouraged the musical and leadership development of young people in the congregation. The worship band has allowed young singers, drummers and guitar players to learn the skill of leading music worship in the friendly and safe environment of a Sunday service, and to contribute to the wide variety of services in our church.

Philip has also ensured the continuation of the work of The Sims Trust. As a Trustee of this charity (which presents every child leaving Primary School in the Parish with their own Bible) Philip has ensured that Bibles are presented to Year 6 students in the Parish each year. The original Trust money left by the Sims sisters ran out some time ago, but Philip has determined that this important village “tradition” has never ceased through lack of funds.

There have been some challenging times in caring for the church building – like the lightning strike and the year that the lead on the roof was stolen - but the most recent major project has been very positive. With David Howard’s assistance, Philip has overseen the refurbishment of the West End of the church building to provide wheelchair access to all areas of the church; an accessible toilet; a new kitchen area; an upgrading of the church clock; a new floor in the bell tower for the bell-ringers and a new room in the North-West corner, which is used for both children’s work during the Sunday service time and as a choir vestry.

Philip’s final service with us will be on Sunday 3 September and he and Joyce will move to Durham soon afterwards.

Joyce has worked faithfully alongside Philip in his ministry to us. As well as wife and Mum, she has been a Reader; PCC member; was heavily involved in the children’s work at the Glebe; has led music worship; has encouraged young people in developing music skills; has done a lot of supply teaching at Crich Infants and does freelance proofreading.

Philip and Joyce already have some plans for their retirement – they will continue their interest in Science and Theology and look forward to continuing attendance at conferences run by the Science and Religion Forum and by ESSSAT (European Society for the Study of Science and Theology). Philip hopes to become involved in the spiritual accompaniment in Durham. Involvement in the University Chaplaincy is also a possibility. He intends to spend more time than currently on his Bridge playing and Chess and has already reconnoitred Durham Chess Club. Joyce will continue her current work of proofreading.

Philip will miss the people here in Crich. Over the years here he has received lots of support from church people, both from current worshippers and from past members who have either moved away or who have died, since he has been vicar here. He values all the memories he has of them. He has served us very faithfully, despite his constant arthritic pain and consequent operations. Philip has left St Mary’s Church in a very healthy position, with a strong Ministry Team who will be able to lead the church through the vacancy period prior to a new vicar being appointed. This does not mean that we will not miss him! But Philip has prepared us to continue all the aspects of St Mary’s life in our community even after he has moved away – a real indication of the kind of strong leadership and training that he has exercised during his time with us.

We will miss Philip and Joyce a great deal. As a congregation, we wish them both all God’s blessings in their retirement to a part of the country that they love very much.


Di Fretwell
(Reader: St Mary’s Church and Deputy Chair of PCC)