A REVEREND who showed immense love to her community in the face of devastation is set to take up a new post.

Kind-hearted Rev Carol Hayden, who served Radcliffe in the aftermath of the Boxing Day floods 2015, is leaving St Mary's Parish for pastures new.

The married mum-of-two is taking on the role of team vicar in Egerton, south Turton, with special responsibility for Christ Church parish, Walmsley, and specifically St Andrew's Church in Bromley Cross.

The 53-year-old, who became the first female vicar of Radcliffe Parish in 2011, said: "I have loved being the vicar at St Mary's but I felt the time was right to move on.

"One of the highest and lowest points during my time in Radcliffe was the floods.

"The church was damaged and it has taken us a long time to get it into a state of repair.

"But the highlight was the strength of the community, not just during the disaster but in the weeks and months that followed.

"We could not use the church so we went out into the parish with food and milk, knocking on people's doors.

"We were doing what we are called to do - loving our neighbours as ourselves.

"As a result of that bridge-building, people see the church as far more than just a place of worship."

Rev Hayden moved to Radcliffe 24 years ago but only started attending church on a regular basis in 1990.

While attending St Thomas & St John's Church, she felt called to pursue leadership.

Following three years on the Northern Ordination Course, Rev Hayden was ordained in 2005.

She served her curacy at Christ Church Ainsworth and was then instated at St Peter's, Bury, for two years before becoming Reverend at St Mary's in 2011.

"I was the parish's first female vicar in more than 1,000 years", Rev Hayden said. "I didn't realise the enormity of it at the time."

Rev Hayden's work in the Radcliffe community includes setting up Porch Boxes - a charity putting together crisis packs for people in desperate need - in 1998, and helping to raise £3,000 for flood victims through a fundraising auction at St Mary's.

Over the past four years, the reverend has organised Christmas Day meals for people who would otherwise spend the holidays on their own.

She said: "Last year, we had 60 people, including volunteers, come along. It brought the whole community together. People donated gifts and food. It was just amazing."

She added: "That is what I will miss most about Radcliffe - the community."

Rev Hayden's last service at St Mary's will be held on Sunday, November 26, with her licensing at Christ Church, Walmsley, taking place on Thursday December 7.