St David’s Day was extra special in the Cathedral this year as Canon Graham Holcombe celebrated the Eucharist on his final Sunday before retirement.
Father Graham’s association with the Cathedral began many years ago when, as a teenager he would travel regularly from his home in Port Talbot for organ lessons with the then Cathedral Organist, Robert Joyce. After some years working in the Human Resources department of the industrial component manufacturer, Borg Warner, Graham found himself living in Llandaff for what would be the first of three periods in his life. It was in his late 20’s that he trained for the ministry as a residential student in St Michael’s Theological College. He was at that time the latest in a line of seven or eight Ordinands from the Parish of St Theodore’s, Port Talbot.
In 1980, following Ordination by Bishop John Poole-Hughes, Graham ‘served his title’ in the Parish of Neath under the direction of the legendary Canon Tom Pritchard. Neath was to be his home for some four years while his work focused on the congregation of St Peter and St Paul in Cimla. Among the young people Graham nurtured in the faith in that Parish was one Paul Bennett, now a lay member of the new Cathedral Chapter. 1984 was the year in which Graham found himself returning to the City within a City, as he accepted Dean Alun Davies’ invitation to become a Priest Vicar at the Cathedral; a post he held for two years.
Then, from 1986 until 2000 Graham was the Vicar of Pentyrch which includes the communities of Groesfaen and Creigiau. As the new Millennium dawned so Llandaff became Graham’s home for the third time, when he was appointed to the post he has held until his retirement Although not initially entitled as such, it has for a number of years been the post of Canon Residentiary. Until the School appointed full-time teaching Chaplains, Graham was also Chaplain to the Cathedral School and he has long served as a Governor at Llandaff City School, the Bishop of Llandaff High School and for a period at Howell’s School. Many people in and around the Cathedral community have cause to be grateful to Father Graham for his ministry. He has for so many years been a faithful servant of the Cathedral and its congregations.
On St David’s Day, instead of the usual 9am Parish Eucharist and 11am Choral Eucharist we held a 10.30am service to mark Father Graham’s long and distinguished ministry in the Cathedral. It was wonderful to see the two congregations come together, and this extended to the music as the Parish Choir sang alongside the Cathedral Choir. Over 400 people were in attendance and following a tribute by the Dean, rose as one to give Father Graham a standing ovation. We wish him a long and happy retirement.