‘You have joined a Premier League diocese’ our new rector is told...

The Revd Francis Mason at his induction as the new vicar of Fakenham and Fulmodeston, flanked, from left, by church wardens - Andrew Lee, Roger Burbage, Alison Harding and Stephen Miles MLNF15PB05533 ANL-150306-154858001
The Revd Francis Mason at his induction as the new vicar of Fakenham and Fulmodeston, flanked, from left, by church wardens - Andrew Lee, Roger Burbage, Alison Harding and Stephen Miles MLNF15PB05533 ANL-150306-154858001
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Our new rector, the Rev Francis Mason

If nothing else, the appointment of Rev Francis Mason all of one year after Rev Adrian Bell conducted his final service with us provides some idea of the rate at which the Anglican church moves.

In a word, slowly. The long period known as an interregnum required all and sundry to ensure that the work of the church in its numerous manifestations continued uninterrupted. That it did so is quite a remarkable achievement.

The two lay readers and half a dozen retired clergy pulled together to manage all the preaching responsibilities at both Fakenham and Fulmodeston along with baptisms, funerals, weddings and other key tasks. No mean feat.

The churchwardens here rarely seemed to be out of the parish office for long, let alone the church, and all the various groups which use the building as a meeting place or venue for functions managed to keep things on the go.

When the Bishop of Norwich and the Archdeacon of Lynn conducted the service which officiated our new incumbent there was a good deal of ceremony and seriousness in front of almost 300 people.

What I especially liked, though, was an appreciation by those in their robes that there was also some room for light-heartedness.

Thus did Rural Dean Patrick Foreman, in his opening welcome address, point out in advance that there was a printing error on page 18 of the service order. In the first verse of the hymn there, the words ‘the scared name’ should have read ‘the sacred name’. The Bishop in his sermon cheekily reminded Francis that after the heroics of Norwich City at Wembley earlier that same week, he was now joining a Premier League diocese. He also told of processing in Walsingham on the day of the match itself when one of his colleagues received a message to pass on along the lines of : ‘Tell the Bishop that Norwich have just gone two-nil up.’

It will take time for Francis and his wife Gill to settle into their new home, to fully connect with the rhythm of church routines and also to relate to the whole community. But from my brief acquaintance with them, they will do so with good humour and without fuss. We should all wish them the best of luck.

Bird watching is a pastime of mine but not an obsession. If a rare visitor blown off course found its way to Titchwell or Minsmere there’s no way I would join the crowd to get a sighting and tick it off my list.

But it still thrills me to spot a rarity on our doorstep. Having just returned from mid-Wales where birds of prey frequently fill the skies, particularly red kites and buzzards,

I had put them out of my mind when I took off for a walk along the old railway line down to the river. I had barely gone fifty yards when a familiar shape appeared almost overhead. I could hardly believe my eyes but it was definitely a red kite, the first I’ve ever seen over the town.

It came a bit closer before heading along Norwich Road where it was mobbed by an angry crow.

Two passers by shared my enthusiasm, which is always nice. The kite was at one time threatened with extinction but its revival has grown apace with numbers now spreading right across the country.

I have to say the remainder of my walk was something of an anti-climax after that.