A well-known and respected parish priest in Morecambe’s West End has bid farewell to the town.
Father Tom Davis, who was parish priest at St Barnabas Church for seven years, attended his farewell mass before leaving for pastures new in the Isle of Man.
Father Tom said: “I’ve spent 14 years in the diocese of Blackburn and also did a stint at St Martin of Tours Westgate, which is now sadly closed.
“There is a great deal of poverty and hunger in the West End. I was a member of the board for Morecambe Bay Foodbank , chair of trustees for Morecambe Bay Homeless Action and chair of the Friends of Regent Park and also chaplain to 455 Morecambe and Heysham Air Cadets .
“I was a governor at West End Primary School and very involved with the poor and marginalised.”
Father Tom had been asked three times to go to the Isle of Man but it was only recently he agreed to go.
He said: “I’ve loved it here, I leave with sorrow. I believe I must always follow Jesus, and this is a brand new challenge for me.
“ I will be near the major port of Douglas which still has some deprived areas.
“I love the people of the West End and it is with great sadness that I leave. It’s not often you leave a parish and feel like that. It was so much harder because I don’t want to leave.
“The farewell mass was an emotional service, 150 people turned up from the West End, as well as the air cadets, David Morris MPand local councillors I have worked with.
“It was a very humbling experience and what encouraged me more is people engaging with one another.”
Morecambe Bay Foodbank and Morecambe Bay Homeless Action are now based in what was Father Tom’s community centre, the West End Community Centre. Father Tom said: “That is a great triumph and one of the greatest achievements, people working together.”
Now 56, Father Tom was five when he told his mum and dad that he wanted to be a priest.
He worked at a school for vulnerable adults and young people with severe learning difficulties.
It was during that time he was ordained, in 1999.
As Father Tom said: “I couldn’t put God off any more.”
He said: “I cease to be parish priest at St Barnabas on October 22 and I start at St Matthews on the Isle of Man on October 23.
“It is a bit daunting but it will be good. I have no family so it will be me and all these new people. I do find the work exciting and I can make a new life for myself. It’s beautiful and the parish is lovely. “
Father Tom can retire at 70 but is happy at the moment to carry on with his priesthood.