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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October, 2003, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
TV vicar leaves parish
Jamie Allen
Mr Allen will take up a new post
A DJ-turned vicar who featured in a BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary has resigned from his post because of the pressure of his new-found fame.

Reverend Jamie Allen, 32, was sent thousands of letters from viewers asking him for help and guidance after the success of A Country Parish.

The BBC Two programme, which was aired in February, showed the vicar, his wife Suzy and their three young daughters move from St Mary's Abbey - an urban parish in Nuneaton, Warwickshire - to a parish in rural Wiltshire on the edge of Salisbury Plain.

It soon became a huge success, with millions tuning in to see Mr Allen adjusting to his new life.

But in July the Bishop of Salisbury, David Stancliffe, gave Mr Allen three months' leave so he and his family could "reflect on the past 12 months and plan for the future".

My ability to minister effectively in the villages has become irrevocably compromised
Rev Jamie Allen
At the same time, Mr Allen asked the BBC to postpone a second series.

Now he has left his post as rector of Seend, Bulkington and Poulshot.

In letters read out in church he told his parishioners that the exposure had "presented a number of serious obstacles to my work through which...my ability to minister effectively in the villages has become irrevocably compromised".

'Warmth and compassion'

A BBC spokesman said: "We were saddened to hear that Mr Allen is resigning from his parishes.

"A Country Parish was a huge success, and Jamie's obvious warmth and compassion struck a chord with millions of viewers nationwide.

"Although we made sure he was supported in the additional work generated by the programmes we understand the reason for his decision."

In a letter, Bishop Stancliffe said Mr Allen had showed "courage and honesty" in his decision, saying that the scale of public exposure had been "overwhelming and beyond anything that had been envisaged."

Mr Allen has resigned his licence, not his orders, and he is still a priest.

The bishop said he hopes he will soon resume ministry in the undisclosed location where the Allen family are now living.

Responsibility for the three parishes has passed to Canon John Record, the Rural Dean of Devizes, until a new appointment is made.

Wiltshire vicar prepares for fame
04 Feb 03  |  England



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