A POPULAR Church of England priest is to lead his final service in Grove on Sunday, having served 8,500 villagers for the past three years.

The Rev Paul Eddy, 45, has been Curate at Grove Parish Church in Main Street, Grove, since July 2009, and has become a well-known community figure.

The cleric, whose four children have attended Millbrook Primary School in Grove and King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage, will preach his final sermon at the 10am service.

Rev Eddy, who before his time in Grove was a public relations consultant for 20 years, will be licensed as priest-in-charge of nearby Stanford in the Vale with Goosey and Hatford, on Tuesday, January 29, by the Bishop of Reading.

Rev Eddy: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this large parish and it has been a real privilege to minister to the needs of the local people.

“I’m now looking forward to a new challenge in Stanford in the Vale.”

In his three-and-a-half-years in Grove, Mr Eddy has become a popular figure in the village’s schools, and has conducted a large number of baptisms and weddings and nearly 100 funerals for local families.

Margaret Williams, church warden at Stanford in the Vale, said: “We are looking forward to Paul’s arrival in our parish and to his ministry in our village communities. He, Verity and their children will receive a warm welcome from everyone in Stanford, Goosey and Hatford.”