THE BOSS of Winchester's oldest charity has broken the “bombshell” news he is to leave after 26 years.

Rev Michael Jackson, director of St John's Winchester Charity, wrote to elderly residents and staff to announce he is to become vicar of a parish in the Yorkshire Dales.

Founded in 931, the charity runs an 81-unit almshouse for “local, needy people of good character,” two nursing homes and a day centre for the elderly.

In the letter, Rev Jackson wrote: “I appreciate that this will be something of a bombshell for the charity…I am nearing the point of retirement, but feel I wish to engage with one further challenge before full retirement.”

Mr Jackson said the part-time job would allow him to devote his attention to parochial and pastoral ministry without also having a large organization to run.

He also hopes to have more time for reading, writing and running retreats.

The Anglican churchman will, however, keep his home in Morestead so his wife, Diana, can still commute to London where she works for the Cecily Saunders Institute on research into care of the dying.

The couple plan to split their time between Hampshire and Yorkshire.