A popular Hartlepool priest is bowing out at a historic church – and is set to take six years of happy memories with him.
Rev Chris Collison, the priest-in-charge at St Hilda’s Church, on the Headland, is to retire next month.
It is a decision he has not taken lightly, having fallen in love with the church – and town – since taking up the role six years ago.
Rev Collison has been supported throughout that time by his wife, Anne, but now the couple will move to Sussex to be closer to their son and grandchildren.
He is looking forward to his retirement, and plans to do some travelling.
Rev Collison said: “I’m 67-and-a-half, so I thought it would be a good time to retire. I don’t want to go on working forever.
I think Hartlepool is a great place to live, and it has been a real privilegeRev Chris Collison
“It was a tough decision, but I made it about nine months ago and I’m convinced it’s the right one.
“I’m going to move to Sussex to be closer to my family, and that was one of the big reasons behind my decision.
“I also hope to travel with my wife to places like Holland, France and Ireland.
“Anne has done a huge amount of work with me as a parish children’s worker, and she has been a massive, wonderful help.
“We’re going to take away a lot of very good memories, as we’ve had a great time here.
“I think Hartlepool is a great place to live, and it has been a real privilege.
“It’s an amazing church, and I’ve really enjoyed being part of the developments here.”
Rev Collison, who has worked in churches for 43 years, has also served as chaplain of The Mission to Seafarers for Hartlepool and the North Tees, and has overseen a number of improvements at St Hilda’s.
He added: “We’ve restored the building, taken out the pews and put in soft chairs.
“We’ve also renovated in a lot of other ways, and have done a lot of work with children and putting on activities for them.
“The work is going to continue, and I’m sure the church will go from strength-to-strength.”