GEOFF Probert described his three and a half years as locum minister at St Serf's Church as 'a complete privilege.'

Geoff arrived in Central Fife, from South Africa, in the spring of 2016 and expected to be here for only six months, but it turned out to be a whole lot longer.

However, his 'Lochgelly-Benarty experience' comes to an end on August 31 as he leaves for Lincolnshire, to become minister of Scunthorpe Congregational Church.

Born and brought up in Manchester, Geoff went with his parents to South Africa in the 1970s and grew up in a mining community.

He became a minister in the town of Grahamstown, near Port Elizabeth, but when the chance to come to Scotland came up in 2016 as locum, at St Serf's, he grabbed it with both hands.

This week he reflected on his time as locum at the linked St Serf's charge: "I honestly thought it would only be a matter of months I would be here, but from the first few days I was warmly welcomed into the communities of Lochgelly and Benarty.

"Maybe coming from a mining community in South Africa made it easier for me to connect quickly with people in Lochgelly and Ballingry.

"The important thing was I found myself quickly getting involved with a number of church initiatives and one of these, TIBAL (Together In Benarty and Lochgelly) saw me spend a lot of time being able to visit senior citizens who maybe were feeling a little isolated and I found it a very rewarding experience."

He has also been a stalwart for many local families in time of grief: "I have been asked to take 120 funerals in my three and a half years at St Serf's and while it is a massive responsibility, I have found it a privilege to be able to help local families at a time when they need support.

"Also the Benarty and Lochgelly Churches Together initiative has been interesting and being able to take part in helping organise Christmas activities involving both churches has been something I have enjoyed."

However, as time moved on he was looking to get a more permanent posting: "Through one or two difficulties with the processing of my transfer from the South African church to the Church of Scotland, I was still a locum and while I would have loved to have stayed at St Serf's it was not possible.

"I needed to get a permanent base and the opportunity came up to speak to the Scunthorpe Congregational Church and I was delighted when they asked me to become their minister.

"It will give me the chance to put down roots. It is not an area much different to Lochgelly, a former heavy industry community that has had to diversify, and I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

"However, I will leave Lochgelly and Benarty with good memories and no regrets, it has been a complete privilege to be able to serve the St Serf's congregations since 2016."