Real Lives: Veteran minister happy to become fisher of trout

Rev Graham Leitch and his wife Mary
Rev Graham Leitch and his wife Mary
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Friends, family, and parishioners recently gathered to celebrate the retirement of long-serving minister Rev Graham Leitch.

The 64-year-old was praised for his work across several Midlothian communities for the last nine years, including Pathhead and North Middleton.

Before he served in Midlothian, Graham was minister of Barclay Church in Edinburgh, where he spent 23 years, and Ferryden Church near Montrose.

One of his achievements was the refurbishment of Cranstoun Church in Pathhead.

Upon preaching his last sermon to the Tyne Valley congregation, he reflected on his time as a minister in Midlothian.

He said: “After serving so long in the city, I couldn’t see myself moving to a linked parish serving small communities.

“I just didn’t fancy it, but at Tyne Valley I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

His recruitment of a care worker from Nigeria led to the very successful Pathhead Youth Project, a drop-in facility which works with teenagers in the community.

Graham praised the parishioners of Cranstoun, Borthwick and Fala for being very welcoming, positive and constructive.

He said: “I doubt you could have found a linked parish that got on better than these three did.”

Graham also praised the efforts of his wife Mary, who created Xplorers, a weekly after-school club in Pathhead.

She also formed a holiday club, which attracted 80 primary school children every July for a week of fun, games, crafts and Bible teaching.

He added: “She is amazing and hugely gifted. Mary trained as a primary teacher, so she is always very well prepared.

“She’s very creative and the quality of material she produced for the Xplorers was amazing.”

During the farewell party at Pathhead Village Hall, the couple were presented with many gifts as a result of generous donations. One of Graham’s retirement gifts involves a garden makeover.

He added: “Hopefully, I’ll get time to do a little more trout fishing and I’ll also have to pay a bit more attention to the garden.”

A group from the church sung a Awdri Doyle composition, The Peace Of God Go With You Now, as a note of farewell.

Graham said he was pleased to have helped strengthen links between the three centres, and by positive relationships between families.

Graham mentioned a plaque at Borthwick which includes the inscription “I am going to rest”, in commemoration of a minister who died in 1904.

“I hope I’m not going to it that way just yet,” he said.

The Leitches have moved to Dunfermline to enjoy retirement.

They hope to spend more time with their three children and six grandchildren.