THE Parish of Romsey has officially welcomed their new vicar, Reverend Thomas Wharton, at a service this week.

On Monday, Revd Wharton attended the service of collation and induction to mark the start of his time as vicar.

Romsey Abbey and St Swithun's Church in Crampmoor have been without a vicar in post since the departure of Revd Canon Tim Sledge in September 2017.

During this period, the assistant curate Revd David Potterton, together with churchwardens and Revd Nik Gower, oversaw the various services and events.

Now, after the service with Reverend Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton and Revd James Pitkin, Romsey Area Dean, Revd Wharton said he felt "truly welcomed".

He said: "There are not many jobs you get to start so publicly and with such a bang and a flourish but Monday's collation service at the abbey was a wonderful occasion leaving me feeling truly welcomed and ready to start.

"It's a real privilege to come to Romsey and start a new ministry as vicar, which involves joining a gifted team of people at Romsey Abbey and St Swithun's, Crampmoor.

"I'm already getting a taste of the many things that take place around the abbey, meeting lots of people and get a sense that there are all kinds of new opportunities to explore.

"The Abbey is a special place, a spiritual home and place which belongs to everyone. It is my prayer that it will continue to be a focal point for so many people long into the future.

"It was great also to be welcomed by a cross section of people representing different parts of the wider town and Romsey churches."

After collecting the keys to the church, congregation members also stayed on to enjoy drinks to meet the new reverend.

Thomas will be officiating at the 10am Sung Eucharist at the abbey on Sunday.