RETIRING Archdeacon Frank Hetherington was given a spectacular send-off on the weekend, as members of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church parish, his family and friends, bid farewell to the popular religious leader.
Archdeacon Hetherington will stand down stand from his post as rector of the Holy Trinity parish on April 30, after around 40 years of ordained ministry.
Having joined the Holy Trinity parish in 1999, it was no surprise a large number of people turned up to witness his last church service on Sunday, which was followed by a farewell lunch at the Orange Ex-Services’ Club.
However, for many the highlight of the weekend’s celebrations was a three-hour peal at Holy Trinity on Saturday afternoon.
“Magnificent” and “beautiful” were among the words spectators used to describe the performance, with bell-ringers having travelled from throughout Sydney to take part in the church’s first full peal, the Yorkshire Surprise Major, which featured more than 5000 different sequences.
Among them was Holy Trinity bell-ringing trainer Dr Jim Woolford, Ron Shepherd, from Menangle, who installed the eight bells before their dedication in 2007, Andrew Davies, from St Paul’s in Burwood, Enid Roberts and Kathi Downs, from St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Bill Perrins from Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral, and his two sons, James and Thomas Perrins.
After a number of rounds at 2pm, ringing the bells in order, the eight bell-ringers adjusted their rope lengths and the peal began.
The amount of concentration involved meant no one was allowed to speak in the ringing room, apart from Mr Perrins senior, the conductor.
Prior to the event, the eight jokingly said they looked forward to relaxing at the pub at the end.
“Bell-ringing is quite a good aerobic exercise and generally, ringers live to an old age,” Dr Woolford said.
“This is a performance - you either succeed or you fail and we want to succeed,” Mr Davies said.
They need not have worried, with impressed spectators sitting inside the church and strolling through the grounds to enjoy the music.
Orange resident Mary Beadle said it was “magnificent”.
“I feel very privileged,” she said.
Alan and Margaret Brown said it took them back to their time in Turramurra when they lived close to the church there.
“We haven’t heard them for a long time,” Mr Brown said.
The subject of the peal, Archdeacon Hetherington, said to hear them on Saturday was an “unbelievably beautiful” experience for him after he spearheaded the project to bring the eight bells to Orange.
“But the effort was not for me - it was to complete the war memorial for all the sons and daughters who never came home,” said Archdeacon Hetherington who, along with his wife Marilyn, on Sunday received a diocesan commendation for their service to the church.