The Reverend Neil Barker, vicar and rector for the churches of Modbury, Kingston, Aveton Gifford, Ringmore and Bigbury, retired on Easter Sunday.

About 150 people gathered in the Modbury Memorial Hall to say goodbye to Neil and his wife Caroline, wish them a healthy, happy and long retirement and thank them for 12 years of service.

A mouth-watering buffet was organised by a group of helpers from around the churches, ably led by Sue Chambers and Carole James. Entertainment not only included a slide show depicting various aspects of Neil’s life over his time in the area, but also saw music performed by 15 members of the ukulele band that Neil started a number of years ago.

Neil and Caroline cut the celebration cake, made by Jackie Tagent, and Adrian Bull gave an excellent speech highlighting Neil’s greatly appreciated and dedicated ministry and community work during his time in the benefice.

During the cutting and distribution of the cake, Neil and Caroline were presented with a number of gifts as an appreciation of his service, including a new ukulele for Neil. Naturally, having tuned his new ukulele, Neil joined the band to play some very well known songs, and those assembled joined in the singing with great gusto.

Alex Hammerstien, churchwarden at St George’s, Modbury said: “It was a truly lovely evening enjoyed by all - a fitting and fond farewell to Neil and Caroline.”