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Canon set to take on new challenge
THIS will be the last Christmas Rev Canon Thomas Woodhouse serves in Royal Wootton Bassett, after eight years as a vicar in the market town.
In February he will take on a position as team rector at St Mary’s Church, in Dorchester, and he will be moving there with his wife and four daughters.
Canon Woodhouse made the announcement at St Bartholomew and All Saints’ Church at the beginning of November, although he will officially leave his post on February 15, and take up his new position on February 26.
In Dorchester he will be overseeing nine churches.
In eight years in Royal Wootton Bassett he has expanded his congregation at St Bartholomew’s from 100 to an average of 200.
“I felt the time was approaching when I was ready for a new challenge,” he said.
“ I had done what I felt God had called me here to do and that’s the right time to look at something new.
“This next stage will extend my experiences. I have enjoyed my work throughout my time here and I really appreciated the company of my colleagues.”
Canon Woodhouse was a leading figure in the town throughout a period of momentous change.
He was a figure of solidarity for the town’s congregation when the bodies of servicemen and women of the British Armed Forces were repatriated to RAF Lyneham and then pass through the town.
He was also in place when the town gained its royal title in 2011.
However, he is keen to distance himself from any notion he was the great catalyst in that period of history for the town.
Instead he says he sees himself merely as a supporter of what the town’s residents wanted to do in remembering the fallen.
“During those repatriation years I played a key role. I was one of the people who supported the town during those years,” he said.
“I was just another person in the town supporting our community. We had very, very good Forces chaplains, who looked after the families.
“The people of Royal Wootton Bassett also needed people to give them the opportunity to grieve.
“I enjoyed the experiences we had as a town only as one amongst many.
“The town wanted the repatriation here and we, as church leaders, merely brought an element of prayer to what they were trying to do.”
During his time with the town, Canon Woodhouse forged lasting relationships with many of the organisations which made Bassett tick, including Royal Wootton Bassett Academy. The secondary school has gone from strength to strength.
Recently, it became the first secondary school in the country to be named ‘outstanding’ twice in a row following Ofsted changes.
Although Canon Woodhouse has not had any educational impact on the pupils, he has forged links as a community governor at the school, and school staff say he will be missed.
Headteacher George Croxford said: “The Reverend has been a very important man in the town for a number of years.
“He has always been willing to speak with staff and pupils. The town will be far worse off without him. He will be missed.”
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