POPULAR Silkstone vicar Maureen Browell conducts her final Sunday service in the parish this weekend.

Then after a few weddings and funerals she will officially retire at the end of the month - a move she admits will be 'a huge wrench'.

But after going through a bereavement and health traumas, she feels now is the right time to call it a day.

Maureen, who is 64, is going earlier than is usual for vicars, who can work up to the age of 70.

"I had planned to continue to my late 60s but events of the last couple of years made me feel it was time to move on," she said.

She is moving to Denby Dale but has no idea what she is going to do.

"I have not made any plans," she said.

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"I am looking forward to having more time although I expect some of my ministry will continue in some way. I certainly won't be idle."

One clue as to future activities has been a friend giving her a bagful of maps - a nod to Maureen's recent achievements in completing marathon walks in aid of charity.

"The maps might be a hint at doing more long walks so It won't be a surprise if I do that," she said, adding that she hoped to do more travelling.

"But I feel rooted here," she said. "It will be a huge wrench to leave."

She praised the community's support after her husband, Andrew, did suddenly in 2019 and her subsequent illness with breast cancer. "People were so supportive through my breast cancer. Really amazing," she said.

Maureen took over at Hoylandswaine and Silkstone in 2012 and three years later added the parishes of Cawthorne and Dodworth to her ministry.

Particularly memorable times and occasions come from each parish.

"In Hoylandswaine it has been a delight to witness the growing numbers of children attending the Sunday morning service, which meant the removal of pews to create a family area," said Maureen.

In Cawthorne, she says that perhaps the most moving event was the recent memorial service to mark the 200th anniversary of the Norcroft pit disaster in which four men and six boys died.

"Dodworth is a busy parish with a strong community spirit and Silkstone parish covers a wide area, including Silkstone Common, Hood Green and Stainborough. I enjoyed driving around the beautiful countryside," she said.

"All Saints Silkstone is well known for staging incredible flower festivals and three of these took place during my time here - bringing thousands through the doors. The parish is also proud to be the home of Old Silkstone Band which has strong links with the church.

Maureen said that one of the most moving events was the Huskar 180 memorial in 2018 - a week-long project involving schools, the church and community in drama, creative works and memorial services.

She is especially proud of the Messy Church project for families at All Saints.

"Its success had been a real privilege," said Maureen.

"It began in 2013 and for a few years had very few members, but eventually it began to grow and really gathered momentum.

“Now led by Julia Thompson, we have over 20 families who regularly attend for activities, worship and to share food.

“It’s a real success story."

For the future, Maureen hopes the congregations of the four parishes will continue to put the gospel into practice.

"So as this phase of my life draws to a close, the new phase beckons and I’m curious to see where God leads me in the future - one thing is certain, life will be very different," she said.