A familiar face in Morpeth will miss the people of the town after deciding to retire.
Rev Ron Forster had been minister of St George’s United Reformed Church (URC) in Morpeth and Great Bavington URC since 1998. He became the minister at Widdrington URC in 2008.
As well as the church community, he was active in the town. The 65-year-old was involved in organisations such as the Greater Morpeth Development Trust and was a town councillor from 2013 to May of this year.
This included being Deputy Mayor for 2016/17, which he really enjoyed.
But don’t be surprised if you do see Ron in the town now and again as he and wife Shirley have moved to Seaton Burn, which is only about nine miles away.
He said: “I have been very lucky and fulfilled to be part of Morpeth for 19 years.
“The town is good at drawing people into involvement in community life. If you go along to an event or take part in a project, you’re bound to meet someone you already know.
“I have many great memories, including each Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering festival that I and Shirley played the parts of Lord and Lady Greystoke leading the parade through the town centre.
“The church pension age is now 68 but I was still able to retire at 65, given the length of time I have been a minister.
“I feel the time is right to move on. I could have retired when I turned 65 in November, however I didn’t want to do so just before Christmas.
“We’re looking forward to being part of the Seaton Burn community and I will have more time for running, especially the park runs as I really enjoy them.
“Thanks to everyone for the support, love and care I’ve received during my time in Morpeth, for which I am very grateful.”
Ron is a supporter of Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons and in his role as Deputy Mayor, he got to meet one of his Newcastle United heroes – Bobby Moncur – at an event to celebrate Morpeth Town FC’s FA Vase win in 2016.
He was a social worker before becoming a youth leadership training officer for the URC and gradually he started to see his future as a minister.
His three years of training for the ministry, which started in 1982, took place in Cambridge and his first appointment was in Stanley, County Durham.
Next came the Sunderland and Boldon group of URCs and the Herald of April 30, 1998, includes a report of him moving to Morpeth with Shirley and sons Steven, now 31, and Chris, now 28.
Ron said: “I soon realised that there were a lot of people in the congregation who were talented and had some good ideas and others were good organisers and willing to help out at the church.
“I believe churches should be very much involved in the community and given the location of St George’s, I’m pleased that it hosts a number of groups and events such as concerts and talks.”
“I also believe in the importance of talking to people, even if they have a grievance and you don’t agree with them.”
In addition, he enjoyed a strong working relationship with the other churches in Morpeth.
He added: “We recognise we do things in different ways, but there’s respect between us and we organise a number of joint activities, including the Good Friday procession in the town centre.
“Sharing our church with St Robert’s when their church was damaged by fire a few years ago was special for both churches.”