A long-standing vicar from south Norfolk is retiring after 20 years in the parish.

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Jess Stubenbord, who has been the rector for Mulbarton, Bracon Ash, Hethel and Flordon since 1993, retired on February 24.

Mr Stubenbord plans to spent his retirement travelling in Europe in a VW campervan with his wife, Anne Mary.

“We are planning to take a complete break and go on a campervan tour,” he said.

“I studied languages a long time ago so it will be interesting to see how my French, German and Russian holds up.

“We also wanted to see God’s work in those patches.”

Mr Stubenbord said he hoped to find some voluntary pastoral work when he returned to the UK.

“We are also going to travel around Britain, visit friends and explore.”

The couple also plan to spend more time with their daughters, Rebecca and Ellen, and their four grandsons.

Mr Stubenbord was born in New York but moved to Blakeney, shortly after his father died, in 1960.

He worked as a vicar in north Norfolk before he was chaplain at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

“This is the longest I have ever spent in one parish,” he said. “I grew up in Norfolk and I have got to know a lot of people. I just love the people.”

A surprise celebration was held at Mulbarton Infant and Junior School on Saturday when the couple were presented with a cake before enjoying a barn dance.

“At first, we didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “We were given the most amazing cake and we had some worship time.

“We were made to feel very special by the church and the community, there were a lot of parish councillors there.”

Mr and Mrs Stubenbord are moving to a cottage in Overstand.

He added: “It seems bizarre that we are not going to go into the next chapter with people. It’s the right time to leave. It’s time for somebody young with fresh vision and energy to come forward.

“We feel very fortunate to have been part of this community.

“People at the church and in the villages have made us feel welcome and we will miss them all.”

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