Fakenham rector Adrian Bell given an emotional send off at his final service

Rev Adrian Bell is retiring this weekend. Picture: Ian Burt

Rev Adrian Bell is retiring this weekend. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

One of Fakenham's most well-known characters has been given an emotional send off.

The rector of Fakenham, the Rev Adrian Bell, gave his final service at Fakenham Parish Church before a packed congregation of more than 300 people yesterday.

After 13 years in the role Mr Bell is retiring and moving to Swaffham with his wife Marian.

During his time in Fakenham, Mr Bell has taken 174 weddings, 434 baptisms and been involved with 500 funerals.

One of Mr Bell's final tasks was to take the funeral of Jack Richards, the owner of Jack Richards and Son and arguably Fakenham's most well-known businessmen.

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Mr Bell has been involved in church restoration projects and is responsible for establishing the Fakenham Christmas Tree Festival.

This has become one of Norfolk's most popular events and has raised £400,000 over 13 years, half of which has gone to the church and half to the many charities which have taken part.

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The festival will continue in Mr Bell's absence.

Mr Bell, however, said he is most proud of the way he has opened Fakenham Parish Church to the wider community.

He said: 'The best thing I've done in all the time I've been in Fakenham is to take off and throw away a

bicycle chain which was locking the front door of the church when I arrived.

'This church is as it should be, supporting the wider community.'

The church is now used by numerous groups and organisations for meetings and events, including Fakeham Rotary Club, Fakenham Choral Society, Fakenham craft market, Kick Start Fakenham, Fakenham Scouts and Fakenham History Society.

Mr Bell said: 'It's been a wonderful send off. Now the best present Fakenham could give me is to ensure the church is packed for the induction of the new incumbent.

'The church is in a great place financially and spiritually and I wish whoever comes in the best of luck.'

A new rector is due to be installed by the new year.

Do you have a story about a community stalwart? E mail newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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