THE new Vicar of Bolton was officially appointed to his new ministry during a special church service.

The induction and licensing of Rev Canon Dr Chris Bracegirdle took place at Bolton Parish Church on Wednesday.

Around 300 people, including schoolchildren, members of the congregation and a number of dignitaries, attended the service to give Rev Bracegirdle “a true Bolton welcome”.

He replaces Rev Canon Matt Thompson who, after 11 years, left to become the new Dean of Birmingham last year.

Rev Bracegirdle, who has moved into the Benefice house on Green Lane, said: “I am very excited to be taking up the role of Vicar of Bolton, including St Philip’s and being Borough Dean of Bolton.

“The service itself was absolutely fantastic and it was really good to share it with so many representatives of the community.

“The good thing is that I am building on a great legacy, especially the work of Canon Matt Thompson.

“For me, it will be about making connections, reacquainting myself with people I have worked with in Bolton previously, and looking at how the church in general can grow its good work.”

Rev Bracegirdle was welcomed into the new role by the Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev Mark Ashcroft and the Archdeacon of Bolton, the Ven Jean Burgess.

Children from nearby Bolton Parish Church CofE Primary School, Bishop Bridgeman CE Primary School and Canon Slade School presented Rev Bracegirdle with important symbols of his ministry, including the Baptism, Bible, and his role as a school governor.

Astley Bridge councillor John Walsh, who is a church warden at the parish church, said: “The service was very uplifting.

“It had the right balance of solemnity for the importance of the occasion but also light-heartedness as the children expressed their best wishes.

“I think it was a fitting start to Chris’ ministry.

“It was very much a Bolton welcome.”

Rev Bracegirdle, aged 61, was born and grew up in Bolton and has been team rector of Blackrod, Daisy Hill, Westhoughton and Wingates for three and a half years before taking on this new role.

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said: "I am delighted that Canon Chris Bracegirdle has taken the short move from Westhoughton to central Bolton.

"He is a very able and experienced priest, who already knows the area well.

"He has served with distinction in the Diocese of Manchester both in parishes and as chaplain to myself and my predecessor.

"He will work well with both churchgoers and the wider community of Bolton."