A THANKSGIVING and farewell service was held in honour of a popular Darlington vicar today (Sunday, May 18).

The Very Reverend Canon John Dobson is leaving his role as area dean of Darlington to take up a senior post with the Church of England.

The prominent clergyman was recently named Dean of Ripon following the death of previous incumbent Keith Jukes.

To mark his departure, an informal farewell service was arranged by the Darlington Deanery Synod.

Fellow clergymen, parishioners and well-wishers from throughout the area were at St Cuthbert’s Church this evening to acknowledge the hard work of Canon Dobson.

Speakers including The Northern Echo’s editor Peter Barron took the opportunity to thank Canon Dobson for his work in Darlington, where he has most recently been vicar of the All Saints and Salutation church in the West End of the town.

Canon Dobson, 48, was brought up in Yorkshire but spent his entire ministry in the Diocese of Durham, where he spent 22 years serving the community.

He was welcomed to his new post in a ceremony at Ripon Cathedral in March, describing the appointment as a huge privilege and a challenging responsibility.

Speaking then, he said: “"Since I first visited as a boy, I've found Ripon Cathedral an inspiring place.

“I am passionate about churches being encouraged to grow and flourish and go out to make the local community more like heaven than otherwise it would be, and my hope is that Ripon Cathedral can develop its ministry of supporting local parish churches.

"I also believe strongly that the Church needs to work in partnership with public, voluntary and private sectors, and I look forward to developing such links and partnerships in and from Ripon."