A NORTH-East Anglican bishop has announced he is to retire.

The Right Reverend Martin Wharton, the Church of England’s Bishop of Newcastle, will step down in September, after 17 years in the job – aged 70.

The Right Reverend Frank White, currently assistant bishop, will lead the diocese until a successor is appointed.

In a message to his diocese, Bishop Wharton said it had been a privilege to serve and he and his wife Marlene had been constantly humbled and encouraged by the faithful dedication and service of the clergy and laity.

“It has been a joy to serve as your bishop.

“We will always treasure the friendships we have made and will continue to hold this wonderful diocese and its people in our prayers during the coming months as the process begins for the appointment of the 12th Bishop of Newcastle.”

Born in Lancashire, Bishop Wharton worked in the banking and steel industries before studying at Durham University.

He is a Newcastle United season ticket holder, CBE and is married with two sons and four grandsons.

A farewell service will be held in St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle, on Sunday, September 21, at 4pm.