The Revd. Malcolm Acheson has retired after nearly two decades as Rector of Storrington, having been inducted on 5th August 1994.
Major services and receptions have been held to bid him farewell together with his wife Pauline and son Joseph who have both made notable musical contributions to the life of the Church.
Tributes have drawn attention to Malcolm’s careful planning of services; his encouragement for organists, Choir, bell-ringing, Sunday School, sacristans, flower-arrangers and all volunteers who help the Church; his enjoyment of meeting people and putting them at their ease; his sense of Storrington’s history and traditions, often expressed in interesting articles and obituaries contributed to Three Heralds (the attractively produced parish magazine for Storrington, Sullington and Thakeham).
The Bishop of Horsham (Rt. Revd. Mark Sowerby) sent a message to the Churchwardens which was read out at the farewell events - here is an excerpt:
“I have always found in Malcolm a great example of the prayerful parish priest at his best. He is unfailingly polite and gentle and always friendly but firm ... he has shouldered the day-to-day burdens of a priest with diligence, compassion and devotion.”
Malcolm has sought to emphasize the role of the Parish Church in celebrating or commemorating significant events in local and national life, usually by means of inter-Church Civic Services of dignity and grandeur blended with warmth and joy.
Among these have been special services to mark the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees (2002 and 2012); the Millennium Eve Service (New Year’s Eve 1999/2000), followed by a candle-light procession along School Lane for a champagne-style reception at the Roman Catholic Priory; a more official Millennium Civic Service on 3rd September 2000; services to commemorate all the major wartime anniversaries, with the Storrington Air Cadets on parade; and a service to mark the merger of Storrington and Sullington Parish Councils (2003), during which the outgoing Chairman of Storrington Parish Council (Mr. Tony Read) invested the Chairman of the new joint Council (Mr. Ray Dawe) with the civic chain of office.
During the same service a fully-researched Royal British Legion Book of Remembrance (with details and pictures of all who fell in the two World Wars) was presented to the Church by Mr. David Coward.
As Chairman of the Hooper & Downer Trust, which owns the Old School in Storrington, Malcolm has worked hard to ensure that the historic school building would continue to be available for Church and community activities, as well as providing a home for Storrington & District Museum after its foundation in the year 2000 by Joan Ham and others.
He oversaw the refurbishment of the building and the construction of two useful outbuildings. He also initiated and helped to organize the Storrington Millennium Exhibition (Aug.–Sept. 2000) – a major event with displays on four sites – together with Angela Evans, Marcia Edwards, Steven Sherlock and Helen Whittle.
With the invaluable help of successive Churchwardens and others Malcolm has initiated and overseen a number of projects to benefit the Church:
lInstallation of floodlighting to mark fifty years of peace (1945-1995) and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee (2002);
l The addition of half an acre to the churchyard to renew the possibility of burials, surrounded by a new Sussex-style wall built of brick and flint;
l The creation of the Rectory Office and meeting room with an outbuilding for parking and storage;
l The provision of cloakrooms, a new heating system and kitchenette facilities at the Church.
Malcolm has been an active Honorary Chaplain (padre) to the Storrington branch of the Royal British Legion, and to 2464 (Storrington) Squadron Air Training Corps. He has organised an occasional Community Workers’ Lunch which over the years has brought together local doctors, clergy, headteachers, social workers, police, youth workers, community and psychiatric nurses, Parish Council leaders and others.
Many generous comments have been received about Malcolm’s care in preparing couples and families for christenings, weddings, funeral services and other events. Here are just two entries written in a book of farewell messages:
“I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me and my family You have always been there for us.”
“Thank you for being ‘you’ – always there as a guide and inspiration.”
Malcolm and Pauline Acheson are retiring to Eastbourne in the near future. Meanwhile the pastoral care of the parish is in the hands of the associate priest, Rev. Roger Watts, supported by Rev. Rupert Toovey (honorary curate).
Report and picture contributed by Vivien Stuart, parish secretary, St. Mary’s Church, Storrington.