MUSICAL FAREWELL: A surprised Christine Smith
MUSICAL FAREWELL: A surprised Christine Smith

A CONGREGATION’S musical farewell to their hard working church warden hit all the right notes.

Members of Holy Trinity, Startforth, dreamt up the musical send off for Christine Smith, who is moving with her family to Darlington.

Coming up with their own version of a Gilbert and Sullivan classic, Revd Peter Fisher, Ian Wear and Colin Clarke took centre stage after Sunday service was over with “A churchwarden’s lot is not a happy one...”

Mrs Smith, who combined churchwarden duties at Holy Trinity with her job at Village Opticians, in Darlington, said the musical tribute had come as a complete surprise.

A member of the congregation for eight years, she had been churchwarden for five years.

“It is just so friendly here. When I first came here, I knew Colin – we worked together. He introduced me and I just felt part of it,” said Mrs Smith.

“When I was asked to be churchwarden, I did not know what I had taken on, but I have really enjoyed it.”

As well as the usual warden’s tasks, such as ensuring the church is ready for services, weddings, funerals etc, Mrs Smith said the closure of Startforth Morritt Primary School had added to the workload.

For two years, she was part of the committee which oversaw the school’s transformation into the village community centre.

“When the school closed, we had to make sure the building was looked after and then we got everything up and running as a community centre. It was a lot of hard work.”

Mrs Smith’s successor as churchwarden is Andrea Clarke.

Meanwhile, in the absence of the parish’s vicar, services continue to be led by retired priests and readers.