Methodist minister covering Thetford, Diss and Mildenhall gets a big send-off

Thetford Methodist Church celebrate Christmas with their annual Christmas Tree Festival.L-r Bill Ru

Thetford Methodist Church celebrate Christmas with their annual Christmas Tree Festival.L-r Bill Ruxton, Rev Steve Oliver, Neville Hodson.Photo: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan- Archant

A methodist minister was given a rousing send-off when he left his ministry after five years.

The Rev Stephen Oliver served as a superintendent minister for Thetford, Diss and Mildenhall, but decided to move to west Norfolk, saying God had called him to make the change.

However, worshippers at Thetford Methodist Church, in Tanner Street, ensured he did not go quietly at a service on Saturday.

Diss methodist minister Brian Trudgian led the service which featured performances by a music group and choir, while Rev Oliver’s wife Jill, 57, was presented with a bunch of flowers and her 60-year-old husband received a bronze stag, reflecting his love for the animal.

“I will just miss the people basically - the way they have been to us as a family and the way they have been to me as a minister.

“They have just been amazing and I will be very sorry to go,” Rev Oliver said.

His favourite memories of his time in Thetford included an appearance with Rev Trudgian on television’s Bargain Hunt antiques programme, when the pair were given £300 to spend at an antiques and collectors’ fair at the Norfolk Showground but failed in their goal to make a profit.

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He also recalled a number of rather unusual baptisms he conducted, including one occasion where he dressed as Darth Vader to baptise three brothers who were big fans of Star Wars and another baptism of an eight-year-old boy sat on a motorbike, reflecting the boy’s love of the bikes.

Rev Oliver, from Wales, was a probationary minister in Llanelli before he moved to Norfolk. His new west Norfolk role will involve him covering Heacham, Hunstanton, Burnham Market, Snettisham, Stanhoe and Dersingham.

He has four children - Alun, 32, Judith Airdrie, 31, Joanne Airdrie, 29 and Rhian Oliver, 30- and three grandchildren.

He will be succeeded by the Rev Samuel Joseph, who will be a minister rather than a superintendent minister.

Pay your tribute to Rev Oliver’s work by writing, giving your full contact details, to: Times Letters, 26 Mere Street, Duiss IP22 4AD or email