Lowestoft clergyman to bid a fond farewell

A LONG-SERVING Lowestoft clergyman who prides himself on putting the Church at the heart of the community is preparing to say a fond farewell to his congregation.

On Sunday, the Rev Mark McCaghrey will be giving his last service at St Andrew's Church in Roman Road – just one day short of spending 15 years as its vicar.

Mr McCaghrey said he felt his main achievement in his time at St Andrew's was helping to ensure that it reached out into the wider community.

Under the banner Open The Book, church members have been visiting Roman Hill Primary School to dramatise the Bible as assemblies.

He is also proud to be leaving behind a new church garden which was designed to create an 'oasis of peace' for visitors.

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Another major legacy is the seven-month, �750,000 Access All Areas project to renovate, expand and improve the church, which was completed in November 2010 – transforming it from 'a cold, cramped and under-used building' into a 'warm, welcoming community hub'.

Mr McCaghrey had moved to Lowestoft in 1997 from Byfleet, Surrey, and was delighted that the move to St Andrew's fitted in with his view of what becoming a local reverend should mean.

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'I guess what I was looking for was a church that was part of the community – one that was not just in a leafy suburb,' he said. 'It's all about making the church part of the heart of the community. I have loved being in Lowestoft.'

He was also pleased that his congregation was 'gently growing', he said.

During his time at St Andrew's, Mr McCaghrey was involved with the North Lowestoft Sure Start Centre, the town pastor scheme, and Lowestoft Together, and he was chaplain of the Air Training Corps.

As for Sunday, Mr McCaghrey said he would keep his service as 'normal as possible' and he would have 'mixed' emotions on the day as he said farewell to the many friends he had made in the town.

Mr McCaghrey, who is married to Fiona and has four children – Abigail, 17, Thomas, 14 and 12-year-old twins Hannah and James – is leaving Lowestoft to become rector of Mattishall from September 26, having grown up in west Norfolk.

His final service on Sunday starts at 10am.

Paying tribute to his work, Capt Paul McDonough, of Christians Together in Lowestoft and District, said: 'The church also has undergone a wonderful transformation thanks to Mark's efforts and enthusiasm.

'The church has been completely refurbished and now provides a much-used community building that includes not only a worship space but also rooms for hire and a cafe.

'But Mark's involvement has also gone beyond the church and he has always been ready to work with others in the community by being involved in the Community Forum, Lowestoft Together and many others.

'Always willing to work with other Christians, he has been a keen supporter of the work of Christians Together, attending their events and supporting their work.'

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