A FORMER newspaper editor is Romsey's new Methodist Church minister.

And the Revd Gareth Hill's arrival comes as a £100,000 revamp of the church has been completed. This included removing pews and the organ to make more room at the front of the building. A small kitchen has also been installed along with improvements to the heating system.

Welsh-born Gareth spent the last year as the launch editor of a national magazine Connexion for the Methodist Church and before that, three years as a one of six leaders of the church’s central staff.

Gareth, 58, will be welcomed into the Romsey Methodist circuit during a service in the town next Wednesday (September 2) at 7.30pm. His patch also also covers Methodist societies at Cadnam, Canada Common, Landford, Nomansland and Wellow.

“I’m thrilled to be in Romsey,” he said. “We have been made to feel very welcome and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with life in the churches and their communities.

“Being a minister now is much more than looking after the chapel. It’s about getting to know as many people as possible and making links between the life of the Church and the people who live around us.”

Gareth’s first career was in journalism, in his home town of Pontypool, South Wales, and in East London. He was a sports writer and eventually became the editor of his home town newspaper group. Later he was Head of Journalism at a Cornish college, training more than 300 reporters in 10 years on a newspaper industry-approved course.

In 1999 Gareth became a Methodist minister. During 12 years in Cornwall he spent a lot of time pioneering mission projects aimed at people who have nothing to do with the Church.

He is also a published hymn writer with three hymns in the latest Methodist hymn book Singing the Faith and two in a United Methodist Church hymnal in the US. In 2007 he was one of the BBC’s Radio 2 and local radio hymn writers of the year.

Gareth and his wife Joy have a daughter Sian who lives in Chandler’s Ford, and a son Andrew who lives in Romsey. Both are married with children.