TWENTY-FIVE years ago, John Salter the motorbike vicar rolled into Wantage in his leather jacket.

He was fresh from the mean streets of Birmingham, where he had been attacked by a man with a knife and narrowly dodged a glass bottle hurled at his head.

Luckily, he had joined the local biking chapter who had his back in sticky situations.

Birmingham itself had been a change from Tottenham where his church was under a block of flats, opposite a bar where his flock flocked after each service.

But, he says, he loved both his postings and the people he got to know there.

And neither of his first two churches, though they presented challenges, dented his staunch Anglo-Catholic faith which he then brought to Wantage.

In a nutshell, he summarises his belief in the 'affirmation of creation' that 'all things are good'.

In Wantage, this has meant some joyful noise which, before his arrival, might have been deemed inappropriate: parties in the pews, live music and now, fried breakfasts every Monday morning.

All of it, he says, has been an effort to 'make Christ present' in the lives of the community he serves.

At the beginning of January, Father John celebrated his quarter-century in Wantage with another party at Ss Peter and Paul with a host of friends and former curates.

They were also joined by his wife Karen, daughter Rachel and son Jeremy.

Speaking the following day he said: "Yesterday was unbelievable: such a beautiful celebration of a wonderful feast made even more so by my family and friends who came together for an anniversary.

"It was so good to see all the curates at once. It was also good to rejoice in the riches of these 25 years.

"Thank you for all you have been and the more you have given me by your prayers and support."

Looking to 2018 and beyond, the future is now more uncertain.

At 67, Father John is approaching retirement, and while he has made no official announcement yet, he indicated the time for change in Wantage Parish Church was coming.

He said: "Now the direction changes away from the past to the future so as to discern what God wills for us in the years ahead."

Father John thanked everyone who had supported him over the years and who helped celebrate his anniversary.