THE new vicar of a Poole church was welcomed by a 250-strong congregation earlier this month.

Revd Philip 'Pip' Martin was introduced at St Aldhelm's Church, Branksome, in a special service led by Rt Revd Karen Gorham, the Bishop of Sherborne.

The service was watched by some members of Revd Martin's previous parish, St James' Alderholt, near Fordingbridge.

Local parish members were joined by many local clergy and the mayor of Poole, Lindsay Wilson.

Originally from Teeside in the north east of England, 'Father' Pip as Branksome's new vicar is known. said he enjoyed the service of welcome.

"It was really positive and supported by lots of church members and my first Sunday service, despite the large church and fairly large congregation, had a nice intimacy about it. I'm very much enjoying it."

The vicar has had a busy start in the parish having overseen weddings and baptisms, as well as visiting nearby Bishop Aldhelm's School.

A Spanish speaker, Revd Martin said he enjoys football and values contact with friends in the church in Spain and Ecuador.

He is also founding member of the Salisbury Diocese cricket club.

Revd Martin spent more than two decades in his role as Alderholt's vicar, but said he is adjusting happily to town life.

"It’s all a huge contrast to Alderholt, but I have really enjoyed the people I have met at St. Aldhelm’s and around the local area.

"I've been a country vicar for 25 years and I think although I'm finding it is very different being in a town, I want to bring the same approach.

"I want to get to talk to people, get to know people and respect people where they are and for who they are.

"From there I'll see what God makes possible.

"What I would really like to do is and I think the whole church would love is to make the whole building as well as the whole church available to the community.

"We very much want to be an open church both spiritually and physically. We would like to be even more open to the community."