CLACKMANNAN Parish Church’s new minister is entering his twelfth job since he officially retired.

After a 53-year career which took him around Europe including Rome where he had an audience with the then Pope, tireless 80-year-old Church of Scotland minister Rev Ray Gaston recently started his now job in the Wee County.

He retired in 2002, but says being a Kirk minister is the best job in the world and he wants to keep going as long as he can.

The inspirational reverend’s latest post, which he took up around three weeks ago, involves taking the service each Sunday and around another 16 hours of work each week, attending church affairs and making pastoral visits to people in their homes, as well as those in hospital and residential care.

Rev Gaston, who has been a minister since 1969, said: “Life is for living and I’m extremely pleased to be still able to do what I love, despite my age.

“Ministry is a very satisfying and fulfilling role and I hope to continue supporting the church for as long as I am able.

“This is my 12th post since officially retiring and doing locum work keeps me sharp mentally.

“I am sure there is a connection between mental agility and the onset of conditions like dementia so I think people should be able to work in certain types of jobs for as long as they are able to, if they want to.

“Personal satisfaction has a lot to do with maintaining mental alertness.”

The Dollar man described being a minister as the “best job in the world” and urged people with a sense of calling to make a real difference to society and consider taking on the challenge.

The majority of his roles in the last 14 years were in churches in the Perth and Stirling presbytery areas, but he has previously served congregations in Turin as well as islands Coll and Tiree.

He said his new role will allow him to do the tasks that particularly interest him, explaining: “I do the parts of the job that I love, preaching, teaching and dealing with people at all stages of life – births, marriages and deaths.

“That is the role of parish ministry – it is a real privilege and the most demanding and satisfying part of what it means to be a minister.”

During his career, he has also been the minister of the Scottish Church in Geneva and is a former moderator of the Presbytery of Europe, a role which led to him having an unforgettable audience with Pope John Paul II in 1992 – a man he described as “wise and delightful”.

Married to Evelyn with whom he has three children, he added that he has never felt discouraged in his job throughout his career.

He said: “If I can encourage at least one person to go into the ministry, I will be very pleased.

“But times have changed and it is no longer a solo job where the minister does everything – it is a role for team builders.”

The grandfather of four added: “There is such variety in the job, it is not monolithic at all and every parish is different.

“They throw up different problems to solve and different opportunities to develop.”

The reverend is encouraging anyone who is interested in becoming a minister to visit