HE HAS been the vicar of a busy church community near Romsey for many years.

But he has now said goodbye to his congregation.

The Rev Julian Williams spent 19 years at St John’s Church in Rownhams and St Boniface Church in Nursling.

During that time the congregation has soared so much that in 2012 he announced a £1 million building plan for St John’s to extend its wings.

But now he has decided to leave the churches, announcing he’s giving up being a vicar.

The 53-year-old is taking up a role as a learning support assistant at Nursling Primary School and as a pianist.

He said: “It’s very hard to describe but I think that many vocations are not necessarily for life. Some people think if you are once a vicar you are always a vicar.

“Over the last few years I have gradually felt that vocation slipping away from me.”

Mr Williams was ordained in 1991.

“I always wished I had done something else before I got ordained. I always felt it was important to keep up my music”, he added.

During his time as a vicar in Nursling and Rownhams, Mr Williams attracted more than 100 people of all ages to the churches and created many initiatives both for his own parish and abroad.

Among them were to Uganda to visit local churches, and the launch of a youth group for youngsters in Nursling and Rownhams.

Dozens of residents turned up to a leaving party held at St John’s on Saturday to say goodbye to him.

Church warden Jo Watson said: “Julian will be extremely missed for so many things he does behind the scenes, for his amazing musical and drama skills, for his caring and friendship and his ability to lead and entertain.”