It was while packing his case in the sacristy at Chipping’s St Mary’s Church that Father Anthony Grimshaw had a small window of time to look back on his seven years as its parish priest.
Children, staff and parishioners at the primary school had already been to his farewell Mass, given him warm wishes for his retirement in Salford and gifts to take with him.
I have been most wonderfully happy all the time in ChippingFr Anthony Grimshaw
He said afterwards: “I have been most wonderfully happy all the time in Chipping, the churches have all worked together, the congregation here is great, we sing well.
“I have gone round with Jack Green taking the eucharist to older people once a month and have a chat – I have never been in such a rural parish!”
Born in Manchester the eldest of five children and intending to be an engineer, Father Anthony’s priestly calling at the age of 16 took him first back to his old school St Bede’s as choirmaster.
He then moved to Kenya, back to work for the Salford diocese and then CAFOD in London.
Work at parishes in Higher Broughton and Collyhurst led to Longridge, where he served as parish priest at St Wilfrid’s from l984-88, during which time the church celebrated its centenary, Father Anthony his silver jubilee and work started on the church’s renovation.
A fluency in Italian led him to Italy, he got to know Pope John Paul II and later marked his golden jubilee in the priesthood by having a personal audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
Due to a lifelong interest in education he returned to the Salford Diocese, ministering at parishes in Todmorden, Blackley and Bolton prior to his move to Chipping.
And so it is back to familiar surroundings that Father Anthony goes, his new home being one of the ten priest reirement apartments in Cathedral House attached to Salford Cathedral.
One way of travelling around Chipping – and other parishes – he’s known and famed for has been by his electric scooter, ‘Silver Mark 2.’
The day before he left, he was out on it visiting Mrs Dugdale who had just returned home from hospital.
So it’s obvious that Chipping folk will miss that familiar sight.
“They’ve called me the silent killer,” Father Anthony quipped.
“But they’ll have to get used to me in the streets of Salford....I’m taking the scooter with me!”