Shock as vicar leaves church

Canon Andrew Clitherow of St Cuthbert's Church, Lytham

Canon Andrew Clitherow of St Cuthbert's Church, Lytham

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A LEADING vicar who advises on marital problems is to leave a Fylde church after splitting from his wife.

Canon Andrew Clitherow stunned the congregation at St Cuthbert’s Church, Lytham, when he told them he would be leaving the church next month.

The 60-year-old father-of -four is separating from his wife and said the demands of working at the Lytham church had “taken a heavy toll” on him.

Canon Clitherow, who was appointed a chaplain to the Queen in 2008, is a best-selling writer of books for his fellow vicars, advising on how to deal with pressure on their work and marriages.

And the Blackburn Diocese today moved to dispel rumours that Canon Clitherow’s marriage break-up was because of an affair.

A statement said: “The Bishop of Blackburn, the right honourable Nicholas Reade, has received assurances from Canon Andrew Clitherow he is not in a relationship with anyone outside his marriage.

“He is working amicably with his wife as they prepare to separate.”

The popular vicar also looks after the neighbouring St John’s parish, and will lead his last service on Easter Sunday.

Citing stress as his reason for leaving, Canon Clitherow said: “I’ve found leading St Cuthbert’s through a period of significant change a far more demanding experience than I could have imagined.

“The continued and sustained levels of stress have taken a heavy toll on me. As a consequence I’ve decided to return to my old parish of St Paul’s Scotforth in Lancaster.”