Bishop of Durham Paul Butler retires after a decade of championing the disadvantaged

Helen Ford went to meet the Bishop of Durham as he retires.

The Bishop of Durham says he has "mixed emotions" as he retires from his duties after ten years.

The Right Reverend Paul Butler, who has served as the Bishop of Durham for a decade, stood down from his position on 29 February 2024.

Speaking to ITV Tyne Tees, Bishop Paul said: "I know it's the right time to be stepping down. They've been ten amazing years.

"Ten very full, very busy years and I've loved being here and I've loved being the Bishop of Durham but also know it's the right time to go."

Bishop Butler, pictured on the left, acted as one of the King's Bishop Assistants alongside the Bishop of Bath and Wales. Credit: PA

Bishop Paul is the most senior figure in the Church of England in the North East.

Over the past decade he has championed some of the issues facing people throughout the North East, including supporting low income households and refugees.

He said: "It arises absolutely out of my Christian faith and my following of Jesus but also from the fact that this region has such high degrees of poverty, particularly child poverty and children and young people have been a concern of mine the whole of my life.

"The region, also, has had a lot of asylum seekers and refugees through dispersal systems and so on.

"One of the things that surprised me when I became Bishop of Durham is just how important the role is seen by local authority leaders and local people so I was encouraged by leaders across the region so I was sort of armed and charged with doing so."

Last May the Bishop received worldwide attention when he played a leading role in the Coronation of King Charles III.

During the service, Bishop Butler acted as one of the King's Bishop Assistants alongside the Bishop of Bath and Wales. That meant escorting the King everywhere during the coronation service.

Historically, the Bishop of Durham have been involved with the coronation of new monarchs over hundreds of years.

On this honour, Bishop Paul continued: "It was an enormous privilege, a huge honour to be that close to him, supporting him, guiding him through."There was a moment during it when I did find myself thinking - pinch yourself - this can't be happening. Afterwards I was taken aback by how much local people said to me 'It felt like we were there'."

Paul Butler has served as the Bishop of Durham for past 10 years. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

On his departure from the region, the Right Reverend Paul Butler shared it was his pleasure to serve the people of the North East.

He continued: "I shall take loads and loads of memories of wonderful people because actually, for all the struggles, the region is full of amazing wonderful people.

"I'm not thinking of famous people at all here. It's just the ordinary people that it's my privilege to meet in parishes, in communities who are caring for the elderly, supporting the young, helping to make their communities work so it's all that I will take away alongside the beauty of the dales and the sea."

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