Long-serving Albrighton priest dies aged 81

The funeral has been held of the Rev Roger Balkwill, who was the parish priest for Albrighton area for 29 years.

The Rev Roger Balkwill at the time of the launch of an appeal to raise money to revamp St Mary Magdalene Church, Albrighton, in 1992.
The Rev Roger Balkwill at the time of the launch of an appeal to raise money to revamp St Mary Magdalene Church, Albrighton, in 1992.

Rev Balkwill, who was 81, moved to Telford on his retirement in 2010. He died on September 17 and his funeral was at St Andrew's Church, Shifnal, on Monday.

Speaking at the time of his retirement, he said: “In 2010 I think my proudest achievement is the formation of the United Benefice of Albrighton, Boningale and Donington – three distinct church communities all working collaboratively together.

“Twenty-nine years is a long time for a parish priest to minister in one place, but it’s nothing compared with one of my Victorian predecessors, Rev George Windus Woodhouse, who was vicar of Albrighton for twice that length of time – 58 years."

Another proud achievement was in 1981, when Rev Balkwill oversaw the formation of Churches Together in Albrighton and area.

“This brought together Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Independents, to provide a united Christian front to the community and a focus for practical co-operative ministry together," he said.

And following a public appeal to raise £250,000 being launched in 1992, he helped modernise the interior of the 12th century St Mary Magdalene Church in Albrighton, which was closed for six months while a large-scale restoration took place.

This involved new flooring, moving the font, organ console and choir stalls, replacing old pews with chairs and installing a wooden communion table.

A second phase of work was completed in 2001, providing more space for the Sunday School, a creche and counselling room.

In 2005 Rev Balkwill moved into local politics after being elected as a councillor on Albrighton Parish Council’s North Ward.

Rev Balkwill was husband of Josie, and father to David, Victoria and Daniel.

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