A POPULAR vicar in Witney has received a top honour recognising his outstanding contribution to the community.

Councillor Norman MacRae chose the Rev Toby Wright for this year’s Chairman’s Award in honour of his contribution to the community of West Oxfordshire.

Mr MacRae said: “Toby is an extremely popular and highly respected parish priest whose service to the community is at the heart of his ministry.

“He sees the church as a vital part of local life and regularly opens its doors to host and welcome events that bring both churchgoers and non-churchgoers together, such as the Witney Beer Festival, a Food Festival, political hustings and numerous concerts. His work and his commitment is an inspiration to all those who know and come in contact with him.”

Presenting the Award was Mr MacRae’s last duty as council chairman, a position he has held for four years.

Rev Wright said: “It is a great privilege to receive this award – it has been wonderful to build relationships between the church and the community in so many exciting ways.

“Historically, the church was always a community space and we are returning it to its original purpose.”

Rev Wright has been in Witney as team rector and area dean since 2009.

He looks after four churches covering Witney, Curbridge and Hailey, including St Mary’s Church in Witney. As well as his extensive work in the church, he is a school chair of governors and a trustee on a number of charities and groups.