Norwich service marks 60 years since former Thetford mayor’s ordination

A special service has been held in Norwich to mark a canon's 60 years of ordained ministry.

Canon John Room, a former Thetford mayor and Breckland district council leader, led a service at St Mary Magdalene's Church, in Silver Road, Sprowston, as the congregation celebrated his unusual milestone.

It was the first time he had led a service for 10 years as the church's Rev Marc Palmer stepped aside to let him return to the lectern.

He actually retired from full-time ministry in 1989 but has retained permission from the Bishop to lead services and preach across the diocese ever since, although had not done so for a decade.

Around 80 people took to the church's pews to hear his sermon, as friends, family and fellow members of the congregation joined together.

His wife, Audrey, 82, chose the hymns, Ye Holy Angels Bright, Lord for all the years and To God Be the Glory, while their daughter Liz Hough was the organist.

Describing his return to the pulpit, Canon Room, 87, said: 'I prepared it carefully, knew what I was doing and enjoyed it and was thankful for it. As I said in the sermon, 60 years is a long time.'

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After the service he enjoyed an afternoon with his three children, Liz, Jenny and Tim.

The couple also have six grandchildren.

Canon Room was ordained in Manchester Cathedral in 1951.

He moved to Slough in 1955, where he worked as an industrial chaplain on the new trading estate.

The couple stayed there for 19 years before moving to Thetford, where he was the industrial chaplain as part of a four-strong team ministry.

During this time he was also a councillor on the town council, two-time town mayor and chair of Breckland district council, on behalf of the Labour party.

Mrs Room retired from her role as a part time community worker with social services in 1987, and two years later Mr Room retired from full-time ministry.

They moved to Thorpe St Andrew and joined the St Mary Magdalene's Church congregation.

Although Canon Room had not read a sermon for 10 years the couple have been active members of the church, working as part of the ministry of encouragement.

Mrs Room said: 'The ministry of encouragement is keeping people going who are working hard in the world and in the church, encouraging people.'

•Are you marking a special milestone? Contact reporter Richard Wood on 01603 772423 or email