A POLICE officer turned vicar who has served in Chard for seven years is bidding farewell to the town.

After years at the helm of The Church of the Good Shepherd, Father Jeffrey Williams is retiring and returning to his hometown of Cardiff.

During his time in South Somerset, Father Jeff has offered help and support to families in and around the town, and served as the mayor’s chaplain for two years.

But he wasn’t ordained until relatively late in his life.

Father Jeff said: “I was a policeman for 30 years in Cardiff.

“I was in road accident investigation, and then I stayed as a police officer while a trained for the ministry. I did it part time, training in the evenings and at weekends.

“I was deaconed in 2003 and priested in June 2004.”

Father Jeff retired from the police force just a month before he was priested, and then started working locally.

He added: “I served in two churches in Cardiff, at St Mary’s in the docks, which is where Tiger Bay was filmed, and in Grangetown.

“In 2007, I applied and got appointed to the a post in Malta, in the Diocese of Europe.

“I was in Malta for five years, and then we wanted to come back to the UK, and only got as far as Somerset.”

Father Jeff moved to Chard in 2013, although he wasn’t always destined for Somerset.

“I had applied for some others as I still wanted to busy, and Somerset attracted me more as a place to take it easy,” said Father Jeff.

“Then I spoke to the archdeacon and they really convinced me. The other factor is this was one of the few Anglo-Catholic churches in the Bath and Wells Diocese.”

When he was still practising in Malta, Father Jeff sent his wife Mary to carry out a recce in Chard, and the report back was that it was a ‘lovely town’.

Father Jeff added: “I was dreading it being too sleepy, but it has actually been very busy. So many things have happened down here.

“I have used experience as a policeman and having to deal with quite life changing and life threatening situations.

“I went to Romania with then-mayor Dave Bulmer, as I was his chaplain.

“That was a useful experience, and there has been a lot of things down here that have tested my resolve. It has not been a sleepy place.”

Father Jeff said he enjoyed working with children, including Chard School, Avishayes and Manor Court.

“I suppose the two biggest things I have enjoyed down here have been involvement with the schools, and the people you meet,” he said.

“Many became friends, and not just parishioners. It is the friendships I will miss most.”