One of the UK’s first female priests has hung up her vestments.

Reverend Gill Reeves, a campaigner for female equality in the church, held her final service at St Luke’s Church, Whyteleafe on Sunday after 15 years in charge of the parish, as well as St Peters and St Pauls, Chaldon.

The 65-year-old mother of two was a member of the Movement for the Ordaining of Women, and was among 90 who took up the priesthood at Southwark Cathedral just months after a change in Church of England law in 1994.

She said: “It was exciting at the time. Of course the fight is not over, you still cannot have female bishops, but it was a big milestone and it was quite something to feel you were part of history being made. It is not often you get the chance.”

Born in Hampshire, Rev Reeves moved to South Norwood where she began to be drawn to the church.

She said: “It was after my husband died. I was working in the community and had my two young children, when I began to feel the calling.”

The medical laboratory scientist first began as a curate at St Georges Church, Shirley, before working briefly at St John’s Shirley, and moving to St Mary’s Caterham.

It was here the opportunity to take the post at Whyteleafe came up.

She said: “They were welcoming. Personally I have never experienced any issues as a woman priest.”

Her final months were tinged with sadness after St Luke’s churchyard was targeted by metal thieves who took memorial plaques before Christmas.

The parish was visited by Bishop Christopher Chessun, of Diocese of Southwark, on Saturday, January 14, who held a service for parishioners affected by the theft.

Rev Reeves, said: “It was mixed feeling- upsetting about the theft but grateful the bishop made the effort to see us.”

Rev Reeves will now return to Shirley to care for her elderly mother.

She said: “There was the option of staying until I was 70 but the timing felt right.”