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Rector's Final Hethersett Service

There will be fun and tears on Sunday when popular Hethersett and the Meltons Rector the Rev Di Lammas says goodbye after 17 years. 

A special communion service is being held in St Remigius Church, Hethersett, followed by a lunch to mark Rev Lammas’ impending retirement. 

Rev Lammas came to Hethersett as the villages’ first woman rector in 1995, the 52nd incumbent in  an historic list going back to Ralf de Somerton in 1260. Born in Finchley, North London, Diane Lammas began her working life with the Westminster Bank and also had a period working out budgets for power stations before realising that her calling was in the field of pastoral work which would lead her to become one of the first women in the country to be ordained as a deacon. 

Previously she had been a parish worker in Nottinghamshire and a deaconess before being officially ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral in 1987 and ordained as a priest in 1994. Over the years she has held posts with the Church Pastoral Aid Society, worked in girls’ probationary hostels and with maladjusted children and in a number of other guises before “landing in Hethersett.” 

“I saw the Hethersett post advertised and as soon as I came to the village I truly thought I had come home. I had a strong inner sense that this is where I belonged,” Rev Lammas said adding that she had always been fond of Norfolk from holidays on the North Norfolk coast: 

“I always thought that I would retire to Norfolk one day, which is rather ironic because after working here for 17 years I am now going to retire to Suffolk,” she added. 

During her time in Hethersett, Rev Lammas has supported a number of slightly off the wall ideas from messy church events for children to Abba and Beatles sing-a-long evenings. She is a firm believer in the parish church being at the heart of village life. 

At no time, however, has she felt being a woman, in what for centuries was a man’s domain, daunting: “My gender never seemed to be an issue, although at first the fact I was single seemed to be with some families. I had worked with children, I was born into a family and at one time was a child myself. One of the first things I did was to ban business and committee meetings on Friday evenings. These were times for family events.” 

She hopes that after 17 years she has left a legacy “I hope I have helped people to listen to each other and I hope I have taken people with me. I also hope that I have shown that God is great fun and that Jesus had a real sense of humour as historians are now revealing. The Victorians took the fun out of church by putting in pews. Before that the church would have been a big open space where people could have had parties. I hope I have reflected some of that. 

“My faith has mellowed over the years as I became aware that not everything is black and white and that there are many shades of grey. I have always tried to preach the message that Jesus loves people as they are.” 

One of the great memories Rev Lammas will take away from Hethersett is her regular appearances a few years ago as The Vicar of Dibley thanks to more than a passing resemblance to the Dawn French character. She appeared as the character in village pantomimes and was even asked to open local fetes. 

In her retirement she is hoping to undertake family research, travel to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica, enjoy flower arranging, walking and helping in a local church in Pakefield without “all the responsibility.” 

Whatever happens Di Lammas will keep her sense of humour. She is already looking for a Suffolk group of the Red Hatters: The Red Hat Society is a social group of ladies of a certain age who wear red hats and purple outfits that don’t match.

A fuller interview will appear here shortly