Farewell to the vicar at the heart of four communities

Canon Myra Shackley
Canon Myra Shackley

A much-loved vicar has hung up her dog collar after seven years at the heart of four villages.

Canon Myra Shackley, who was the parish priest for Spofforth, Kirk Deighton, Follifoot and Little Ribston, led her last service of Holy Communion in the area at Rudding Park last month.

During her time in the communities, Canon Shackley has overseen 150 baptisms and more than 60 weddings and has been a familiar face at the village schools.

She said: “It has been a wonderful time. It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to serve the four villages and I shall miss everyone a great deal.”

Canon Shackley said it was the day-to-day duties - the bread and butter of being a vicar - that she will miss the most, adding: “I will miss the beauty of our churches on the morning of Harvest Festival, the magic of Spofforth churchyard after a light fall of snow or the spring flowers at Kirk Deighton.”

But she joked that she wouldn’t miss the impossible task of judging the Easter egg contest at Spofforth School, “an exercise in how to make several hundred people hate you all at the same time”.

Canon Shackley is moving to the outskirts of Saltaire but will continue to take the weddings of couples she has been working with. The keen beekeeper will also tend to her beehives, which are moving over the rectory wall into the churchyard to ensure continuous supplies of honey.

She said: “I can’t imagine what life will be like without trying to be in four places at the same time on Christmas morning, and the fact that I will not now be able to better my record of singing All things bright and beautiful more than 50 times in one year.

“Parish ministry means that no sooner do you put down your roots than you have to pull them up again, and for a gardener the abandonment of my raised beds is a wrench - I hope that someone will keep them tidy for my successor.”

It is not yet known if there will be a replacement for Canon Shackley, but for the next few months at least Rev Sylvia Earle, the Priest in Charge for Collingham, Harewood and the four villages, will take services in all six churches.

She said: “Over the years Myra’s official position has been that of House for Duty priest with an expectation that she would take the Sunday services and work another two days a week. However she has done far more than that and this has enabled me to concentrate most of my time at the Collingham end of the group. At the present time we are not sure what the future will hold. Neither parish is considered of a size to justify a full time paid post. Discussions are taking place as to the best way forward and we should know more by October.”