A much- loved vicar and former aircraft engineer has died after a short illness.

The Rev Rod Biddle, rector of Newport with Longford, Chetwynd and Forton, in Shropshire, spent his entire ministry in the Diocese of Lichfield.

He also served as priest in charge of Bicton, Montford with Shawardine and Fitz, and he was rural dean of Shrewsbury from 1991 to 1997.

Mr Biddle also held chaplaincies with the Prison Service at HMP Shrewsbury and also with the Shrewsbury Fire and Rescue Service, West Mercia Police, the British Legion and the Newport Navy Club and the Severn Hospice.

He became rector of Newport with Longford, Chetwynd and Forton in February 1998.

Before becoming a priest, he worked as a design engineer working on engines for military aircraft with Rolls-Royce. He then moved into the textile industry and worked on machines for making socks. He always maintained that making socks was far more complicated than aircraft engines.

The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, said: "Rod Biddle was a greatly loved pastor and priest who served all of his ordained ministry in the Lichfield Diocese.

" Many people in and around Shrewsbury and Newport will have appreciated his care and ministry.

"For six years he was rural dean of Shrewsbury. As well as his parish work, he was involved in chaplaincy at Shrewsbury Prison and at the Severn Hospice, where he died.

"Our prayers are with his wife, Ann, and their family. He will be sorely missed."

Mr Biddle is survived by a wife and two daughters.