Popular Branscombe Reverend receives special send off before new Archdeacon role

Members of Branscombe's community gathered to thank the Reverend Hilary Dawson, who will leave the p

Members of Branscombe's community gathered to thank the Reverend Hilary Dawson, who will leave the parish after eight years in charge to become Archbishop of Gloucester. Picture: Ross Willmington - Credit: Archant

Branscombe’s much-loved reverend has received a special village send-off after eight years in charge.

The Reverend Prebendary Hilary Dawson held her last service in St Winifred’s Church on Sunday, with hundreds of members of the community gathering to wish her well before she becomes Archdeacon of Gloucester.

Residents clubbed together to buy a painting by her favourite artist, Michael Morgan, and a book about his work, and presented them to her after the carol service.

The Rev. Dawson, who trained as a teacher before being ordained, has led the Holyford mission community since 2010, taking charge of churches in the parishes of Branscombe, Colyton, Colyford, Southleigh and Musberry.

Parishioners from all the churches will come together in St Andrew’s Church, Colyton, on January 4 for a send-off service at 7.30pm.

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Ross Willmington, a church warden at St Winifred’s Church, said: “It’s a great promotion for her. We have known for a little while that she has been growing in stature and was going to be outgrowing her parish. We are going to miss her.

“She is just lovely and brings a human face to the church. When people have been going through life events, difficult times or losing someone, she is good at looking after people – that’s what we are going to miss more than anything.

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“Hilary has immersed herself in village life during her eight or so years with us, and many of us have very good reason to be so thankful for her ministry here. She is a very easy person to get along with, she is a very forward-thinking vicar.

“We wish her all the best and know she will do well.”

The reverend will be licensed as Archdeacon in Gloucester Cathedral on January 27.

The Rev. Dawson said: “It was a special farewell from Branscombe. There were lots of people from the village community, the church was very full. I have loved that they work so well together. They are such happy communities, and each church and community is so distinctive and individual.

“They are absolutely brilliant in supporting their community in all sorts of ways. Apart from the fantastic job churches do, I would want to say thank you to the church wardens, the PCCs and the missionary team. We have a great team.”

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