HUNDREDS of parishioners gathered at a Dorchester church to mark the installation of a new team rector by the Bishop of Sherborne.

The induction, licensing and installation of The Rev Cannon Thomas Woodhouse took place at St Mary’s Church.

The new rector of the Dorchester team and priest-in-charge of the Winterbournes and Compton Valence was welcomed by local dignitaries, more than 60 clergy members and a congregation of up to 400 people.

Among those who attended were Dorchester town mayor Stella Jones.

His most recent appointments include as vicar of Royal Wootton Bassett, priest-in-charge of Lyneham with Bradenstoke and rural dean of Calne.

He said: “I am excited by the opportunities being team rector of Dorchester will bring and I look forward to working alongside a committed and enthusiastic team of lay and ordained colleagues in and around the town of Dorchester – Dorset’s historic county town.”

The new rector is married to Kate and has four daughters – Charlotte, Beatrice, Anne and Alice.

Prior to ordination, Thomas completed City and Guilds qualifications and trained as a chef, moving into hotel management.

He was later ordained in 1995 after three years at Westcott House in Cambridge. Thomas has worked in parishes in Gloucester and Salisbury diocese with time spent working with the Church of South India, the Church of North India and the Anglican Church of Canada.

His parish ministry has focused on renewing, resourcing and rededicating the worshipping community for discipleship – growing confidence and empowering people to reach out into the community.

He serves on the Bishop’s Council and has also been a member of the Diocesan Advisory Council.

He added that he draws energy from the exciting relationship between the worshipping community and the wider community.

The Bishop of Sherborne Dr Graham Kings said: “Thomas is pure gold – we are blessed. “We are lucky to welcome such a wonderful family to share our lives.”