A POPULAR vicar is retiring after 45 busy years.

Canon Godfrey Butland is the Cockermouth area team rector. He took on the role five years ago, after spending 40 years working in Liverpool.

After moving to the area he was asked to become leader of the Grasmoor Mission Community, which is part of Churches Together in the Cockermouth area. He has been involved in many community projects.

“At the end of this month, I retire from ‘vicar-ing’ – full-time, paid ministry in the Church of England," said Canon Butland. "It is nearly 45 years since I was ordained in Liverpool Cathedral, and I served in that great city for all but the last five years.

“I was going to retire after 40 years but God had other ideas! So here I am in Cockermouth – and I’m so glad I came. For me and my wife, Lesley, this has been one of the happiest times of our lives, even though we left our entire family behind (four grown-up children, their partners, and six grandchildren).”

They will be moving to south Cumbria but have many happy memories of their time here.

“Our vicarage is in Little Broughton, where we have made our home and many friendships," said Canon Butland. "But my work has been centred on Cockermouth, and covered a large area from Bridekirk in the north, down to the Buttermere and Lorton valley. As well as 11 Church of England parishes, with their clergy, leaders and members, I have worked closely with other churches.

“One of the best aspects of living and working here has been the close relationships between our churches, and between the churches and our local communities. These partnerships have come to the fore during times of crisis: the floods, financial need, and most recently coronavirus.

“Our churches founded the North Lakes Foodbank; have been closely involved in establishing the Cockermouth Emergency Response Group; and the ‘Linking Lives’ befriending network was set up by Churches Together just in time to offer support during the pandemic.”

The couple have enjoyed living locally.

“There is much we will about Cockermouth," said Canon Butland. "Apart from friendships and colleagues, most of all I will miss the landscape.We will never forget Christmas in Cockermouth: it is so atmospheric