Fylde cleric Canon Godfrey Hirst celebrating 55 years in priesthood

A clergyman who spent many years in Lytham is to celebrate his 55th anniversary as a priest with a service at his former parish.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 5:13 pm
Canon Godfrey Hirst, once known as the Cantering Canon, is celebrating 55 years in the priesthood

The Rev Canon Godfrey Hirst, 80, who lives in Ansdell, was the vicar of St Cuthbert's Church in Lytham from 1994 to 2006.

Although he retired following his ministry at St Cuthbert's, Canon Hirst is still a cleric and occasionally officiates at weddings and funerals.

During his time at the Fylde church he established traditional Horseman’s Sunday ceremonies, at the core of which were the blessing of horses by Canon Hirst.

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At one time a keen horseman himself, he even became known as the 'Cantering Canon';.

He will celebrate his 55th anniversary during a service at St Cuthbert's on Monday, November 8 at 7pm.

Canon Hirst said: "It would have taken place a little earlier but I caught Covid-19.

"It will be nice to see some of my former parishioners again, I am looking forward to it.

"Although I retired 15 years ago, you never stop being a priest.

"I still help out at various services if there is an illness, a holiday or a gap, and I still take funerals and weddings for associates I have known over the years - I'm keeping my hand in."

Originally from Todmorden in West Yorkshire, Canon Godfrey was ordained as a priest at Blackburn Cathedral in 1966.

His first parish was at St Luke's in Brierfield, near Burnley, where he stayed for three years.

Other posts included a ministry as industrial chaplain to Kirkby Industrial Estate in Liverpool, before becoming a 'team vicar' at St Chad's in Kirkby itself, which was known as the largest parish in England.

He was then invited to set up an industrial chaplaincy in Lancashire, ministering to companies such as British Aerospace and the former ICI at Hillhouse in Thornton, while based at a country parish in the village of Treales, near Kirkham.

Canon Hirst also continues to be the chaplain of Fylde Rugby Club in Ansdell.

He is married to second wife Jo and has three children, Rebecca, Sarah and Rachel, and two granddaughters, Olivia and Phoebe.