Britain’s longest serving priest has celebrated his 100th birthday, having ministered to his flock for 75 years. What a brilliant example of faithful ministry.
The Rev William Tavernor was ordained at Ledbury parish church in December 1941 and has been a village vicar across the diocese of Hereford ever since. He chuckles when he considers the choirboys who sang at his ordination would now be getting on for 90.
Mr Tavernor, a father of four, celebrated his birthday on New Year’s Eve surrounded by friends and family, including his seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. There was also a special service in his parish church, St Michael and All Angels in Ledbury.
His first curacy was spent in Ledbury, then a parish near Kidderminster, before moving back to the Hereford diocese. He spent seven years as vicar at Upton Bishop, eight years at Aymestrey, 23 in Canon Pyon, in each case happily provided with glebe. He has since enjoyed 25 years of “working retirement” helping at Kingsland. “I packed up taking services two years ago,” he said.
However, 18 months ago at the venerable age of 98, Mr Tavernor returned to his old parish in south Shropshire, Bettws-y-Crwyn, to conduct a marriage service for grandson, Jack Tavernor and bride, Becky Floate assisted by her grandfather, the Rev Herbert Floate. The story was reported in the Church Times, complete with cartoon reflecting the two clerics’ joint age of 188 years with 124 collective years of ministry between them.