Much loved priest’s move

FOND FAREWELL: Father Nicholas Hird, who is leaving the area after serving at St Paulinus Church for 10 years. (d11101151)
FOND FAREWELL: Father Nicholas Hird, who is leaving the area after serving at St Paulinus Church for 10 years. (d11101151)
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A PARISH priest is leaving his post after a decade in the job.

Father Nicholas Hird is being transferred from Our Lady and St Paulinus Church to take over a parish in Huddersfield.

Fr Hird, who has been a Roman Catholic priest for 18 years, started working at the church in Cemetery Road, Westtown, Dewsbury, in 2001.

He said: “Before then I was working in Huddersfield, and I worked at weekends right across the Diocese of Leeds, but Dewsbury was one of the few places I had never been to.

“I had no idea what to expect from Dewsbury before I started working here. I didn’t know anybody.

“But that was probably the best way to do it, because then you don’t go in with any preconceptions.

“My first impression and my lasting impression of Dewsbury has been its kind and generous people, and I have been very impressed by their loyalty to our faith.”

Fr Hird will be replaced by Fr John Aveyard, but leaves behind a 385-strong congregation.

In his time in Dewsbury, Fr Hird has over-seen a £90,000 refurbishment and still managed to pay off the church’s debts.

He has also conducted 470 baptisms, 51 marriages and 452 funerals.

As parish priest, Fr Hird has been involved with local Catholic schools, as a governor of St John Fisher High School and St Paulinus Primary School.

St Paulinus Primary School headteacher Roxanna Drake said: “It has been brilliant working with Fr Hird. He has been very supportive of the school, the pupils and the staff.

“I will miss his candour, his empathy, his vast understanding of human nature, and the fantastic appreciation he had for Dewsbury and its people.”

Fr Hird will also be missed by his colleagues within the church.

Chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council Tom O’Donovan said: “I think he fell in love with our church and he has nurtured that by putting in place big projects. He has made a contribution to all our lives over the last ten years. We have seen our children married by him and our grandchildren christened.

“He has made a huge contribution and it is something that will be missed by all of us in the church.”

Fr Hird has nine more baptisms and two more weddings booked in before his last weekend in Dewsbury on November 12-13.

He said: “I wish the parish and the parishioners well for the future. I shan’t forget them and I hope they will not forget me.”