Eileen & John at St Michael's Church (Picture: Keith Blundy)

A Witton Gilbert Couple who have amassed more than 100 yrs service to the St Michael’s and All Angels Church have stepped down.

John and Eileen Perkins from Witton Gilbert have been long-standing stalwarts in their worship and various roles at the church. Eileen (84) has served for 61 yrs as a member of the PCC including 38 yrs as its secretary; while John (85) has served for 46 yrs including 30 yrs as Churchwarden.

Eileen has been attending the church since she was a baby and John has been a member since he moved to Witton in 1968.

John said: “I was asked to stand as churchwarden in 1972 – and I said at the time, I didn’t think I was ready just yet. I was persuaded to stand and agreed to do it for a while! So I was Churchwarden until 2000 and then again from 2010 to 2012.”

Eileen has been very active in the church in other ways including undertaking a lot of church tapestry, and she produced the first prayer kneeler that the church had way back. She said: “It was in 1957 that my father came home from a church meeting to say that I had been co-opted on to the PCC and it was in 1962 I agreed to be the PCC secretary just for one meeting and retired in 2000!”

John added: “We decided this year that we were getting a bit ancient and had been on the PCC long enough so we decided to retire at this years AGM finally.”

Although John and Eileen may have retired from the PCC, they remain very active in the church and have recently gifted an engraved glass entrance door to the church and are now planning a stained glass window for the future.

The Revd Caroline Dick, who is the vicar at St Michael’s said: “Eileen and John are a most remarkable couple. Their dedication and hard work have gone well beyond what anyone would expect – but they have done it with great pride and passion, and without them, the church wouldn’t be what it is today.

“It is the hard work of people like John and Eileen that speaks volumes on the way churches and their people engage and become at the heart of the community, and I would like to thank them personally.

“They are both great examples of faithful disciples, and in my time of knowing them, I have been humbled by their willingness to accept change, e.g., the re-ordering of the church and accepting women’s ministry. Eileen has a great love of children and has always befriended the little ones, and John has been at the forefront of maintaining the fabric of the church. They are both greatly loved members of the church and well known throughout the village.”

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham wrote a letter of thanks to them to be read out at their final meeting in which it recognises their work and dedication throughout the years.

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