MILFORD Haven is saying goodbye to one of its best known faces this month.

Father Harri Williams is leaving St Katharine and St Peter's Church after six years at its helm.

Having previously worked as a curate in Haverfordwest, a "fresh-faced" Father Harri made the move to Milford in 2013.

"I remember people were a bit taken aback that someone so young had come to be vicar," said Father Harri.

In the years that followed, Father Harri set about doubling the regular congregation - which now sits at almost 120 regular worshippers, as well as cultivating opportunities for the town's youth.

"The last six years have been a fantastic time in many ways," he said. "I am amazed at what has happened here.

"Our congregation on a Sunday has nearly doubled, we’ve got children here every Sunday, teenagers in our youth group, lots of young families – it’s really a proper church family in that sense.

"To see the volume of increase in attendance is remarkable

"When I first came there were no children, the church was just quiet.

"And now there’s life here, and it’s brought so much joy to many of the older members of the congregation too, who have found a new lease of life.

“We’ve got toddler walking around and people in their 90s, and that’s how it should be.”

Father Harri has also led an ambitious program of refurbishment, securing £45,000 to restore the church's First World War memorial chapel.

As one of the town's most important historic buildings, he said it was only right to preserve this heritage for generations to come.

But, he added: "You can’t invest in the building if you’re not prepared to invest in people."

Every year Father Harri has raised funds to help members of its youth group attend a pilgrimage to Walsingham in Norfolk, where Father Harri and his wife Clare will be moving to.

"For many of those children it’s the only holiday they’re going to get," he said.

"If we can’t do one, we shouldn’t do the other."

Father Harri's relationship with the town's youngsters has also been strengthened through his role as school governor at the Meads and the new town primary school.

“It was an opportunity to fight for the children of Milford Haven to get the best possible education they can," he said.

"With the children in school, the vast majority of them don’t come to church, but you still have a relationship with them.

"A lot of the children know me all the way up to sixth form.

"I think that’s an immense honour, and I think I will just cry the last time I see them."

Father Harri first joined the church aged eight, with no previous religious background - he had not even been baptised.

At the time, his parents were in the middle of a divorce, and the church gave him a "sense of belonging" he sorely needed - something he has worked hard to give today's youngsters.

When he set up St Katharine's Sunday School with just one child, some told him it would 'never work' - but the project is now thriving.

The church youth group now has 25 members, and when he leaves it will be taken over by some of the older boys.

"These are boys of 17 or 18 who have come all the way through and said they want to keep it going.

"I find that remarkable, especially considering all the stereotypes society has of boys that age, but they’ve got that commitment.

"And I think that’s because they feel valued, they’ve found their home in the same way I did when I was young."

Father Harri was also instrumental in re-opening the Mount Community Centre earlier this year.

"The Mount has been very important to me," he said.

"The people of that community deserved to have their centre re-opened.

"When we think of the significant social and economic problems in our community, providing a centre that people can access, that they can gain skills and build friendships, and have a safe place even, I think is so important.

“And I’m proud of the fact we’ve been able to get that open, and that without me it will still carry on because we’ve built a network of people who are supporting it.”

Asked what he considered his greatest achievements in the role, he said: "Hopefully we’ve changed people’s attitude towards the church, and shown that it’s here to serve people.

“When I came only the side door was kept open and I thought that was ridiculous.

"I don’t believe that people cannot come to faith, I think a lot of it is psychological – there’s that mental barrier.

"I am proud of the fact we’re a church family that cares for each other, and I think it’s that which people have been attracted to."

Father Harri's last service will be on Sunday, November 18 at 10am, followed by a 'bring and share' lunch at the Royal British Legion.