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Suffolk vicar Peter Macleod-Miller returns to Australia
By Andrea Davidson
BBC Suffolk

Peter Macleod-Miller with two of his donkeys
Father Peter with Lulu and Nellie at St Edmundsbury cathedral

The Reverend Peter Macleod-Miller has made a name for himself in Suffolk.

He has a menagerie of animals and uses them when working in schools and making pastoral visits.

But he is leaving it all behind to return to his homeland of Australia to become archdeacon in the city of Albury near Canberra.

He has been the vicar of All Saints in Barrow near Bury St Edmunds for eight years, and says he will miss Suffolk, its people and his animals.

"I feel excited about the prospect of something totally different," said Father Peter. "At the same time it's wonderful to be going from a place where I have such positive memories and so many friends.

"They've been so kind to me. When I arrived here I think I was a bit of a surprise, but things have worked out.

"I feel I'm really a bit of Suffolk myself now."

Animal Ministry

He has become well-known in the county because of his animals - the latest headcount was 12 bantams, nine sheep, five ducks, three donkeys, three alpacas, nine white doves and a peacock.

Before he came to Suffolk, he really did not know a lot about animals, but they have become a real part of his life and some of his services.

"I've loved the team of people that have helped to support me in using them for all sorts of things. And I know lots about animals that I would never had known if I hadn't come to Suffolk.

"I have contacted the donkey breeds society in New South Wales and Victoria and I'm hoping to find something. A non-kicking, non-biting variety!"

Off to Oz

Father Peter MacLeod-Miller
Father Peter with members of his flock at Barrow

He has only driven through Albury in the past, but says he will not be lonely.

"I was surprised when I went there in June that I knew four retired priests and their wives in the congregation, so I'm not entirely among strangers."

And after enjoying his time here, he is hoping his new parishioners will be as welcoming.

"If they're not as open and frank and funny (as people in Suffolk) I'll be very disappointed."

As for leaving Suffolk behind, he thinks that might be even tougher than starting the new job.

"When I get on the plane I bet I'll be really gutted. But one of the great things is that with the internet and telephones, I'll keep in touch.

"God's full of surprises. And I think things will be even better than I could imagine."

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