THE vicar of a church in Old Basing gave his last service in the area last weekend ahead of a return to being a chaplain.

The Reverend Alexander Battey, known as Father Battey, has been the vicar of St Mary’s Church in Church Lane, Old Basing, for the past six years, but last Sunday he gave his final service before returning to be an army chaplain.

Before being the vicar at Old Basing, the 41-year-old served as an army chaplain for four years, and he will be returning to the role, this time based on the south coast near Chichester.

Fr Battey, also known as Alec, said: “Old Basing is a lovely community. There is a really friendly feel in the area, and I’ve had a happy time while I have been here. It has a real sense of itself, and it has been a privilege to be the vicar here.”

In his previous time as an army chaplain, Fr Battey took part in exercises in both Kenya and Afghanistan.

Fr Battey added: “I was on tour with a group of soldiers for seven months in 2010, and it really had its moments.

“There was always a risk of getting injured, and we lost several soldiers on patrol while I was there.”

Even though they were in a war zone, Ft Battey added there can be a misconception as to what the soldiers might need.

Fr Battey said: “People don’t stop being human beings when they are deployed. People might be surprised about how often they might need a bit of attention or miss basic things. I provide a pastoral role, and can give honest, unbiased counsel. It’s amazing the types of conversations that you have with the soldiers.”

This went along with general day-to-day duties such as taking church parades or memorial services.

Fr Battey added: “I’m looking forward to getting out there again. But I have enjoyed my time in Old Basing and I have never regretted going.

“The relationships that you build in the local community are an important bond, I’ve loved working with the local schools. The children are such a positive presence, and it has been great.”