1942 - 2017



About 300 people came to Holy Trinity Church in West Lulworth on Friday 15th December 2017 to remember and give thanks for the life of Bob. Some indeed didn’t even make it into the church but listened and remembered from outside. Some had come from overseas and some from just next door. All were there to remember a man who in some way had touched their lives. The Rev. Hugh Maddox gave a moving, reflective and humorous eulogy, some of which is included here.

Having first trained as a social worker, Bob was ordained in Liverpool Cathedral by Bishop David Sheppard in 1977. He served as Associate Vicar at St. Anne, Aigburth in Liverpool, then moved to a Diocesan post in Gloucester in 1980. In 1985 he returned to social work with the Leonard Cheshire Foundation in London.

When Bob came to be our Parish Priest in January 2000, he was already well known

locally because he and Joan had already made a home in Winfrith whilst Bob was Director of The Stables Family Home Trust near Ringwood, a home for young adults with learning difficulties.

In his eulogy, Hugh Maddox said: “ In January 2000, Bob became Priest in Charge of this Benefice…. However, on the day of his licensing - and there will be many among you who will remember this - there was a power cut and half the village, including the church, lost all power! The service still went ahead, but in candlelight and without heat.”

Bob was our Parish Priest for 8 years, for 6 of which he also served as Rural Dean of Purbeck. He was a man who seemed to be blessed with endless energy and once said to me that “by Sunday really all the hard work was done”. Sundays were the highlight of the week. He obviously loved the liturgy of the services and bought to them an immediate spirituality and serenity. Thankfully, they were never over-serious; indeed a sermon minus a joke was a rarity! He also pitched his services to suit each congregation. Those who attended his baptisms will surely never forget the joke about the bats who, having been baptised, were rarely seen again - point made Bob!

Those whom he married will remember how intensely personal he made their special day by putting them at ease. On one occasion, when the bride was overcome by emotion, he encouraged the groom to give her a hug so that she could give her responses! Those who had lost loved ones, will remember the special care he gave to them and their funeral services.

His talents were indeed many. He loved to sing and became a key member a group called The Combine Harvesters, which gave one of its first performances in Chaldon Village Hall and caused much hilarity. The group renamed itself Hambury Tout and for several years travelled throughout Dorset helping raise funds for various charities and produced a couple of CDs. In his young days he was a formidable sportsman, playing rugby league professionally for St. Helens. After suffering a serious injury on the field, he felt a strong calling to the priesthood but this did not end his love of sport. The opportunity to watch a day’s cricket in London or the Rose Bowl in Southampton with cricket-loving friends was a special treat.

His wide interests ensured that he always had something to talk about to everyone. Over the years he gathered a wide circle of friends, many of whom were not regular church-goers. However, God was always there in the background. Whatever the conversation or occasional risqué story, you knew that he had a message to spread and sometimes in unconventional surroundings. One his much admired ideas involved convening a Lent Study group of mostly non-churchmen from Chaldon Herring. The Men of Chaldon met in The Sailor’s Return on a regular basis to discuss things both spiritual and philosophical and much else. Those Men of Chaldon still cherish those debates and the thoughts that they provoked.

Bob and Joan moved to Jersey where they spent five happy years and it was lovely to see so many of their friends from Jersey at his funeral. In retirement Bob became very much involved with the church of St. John the Baptist in Bere Regis and was working there until he was admitted to hospital in November last year.

It was our privilege to have had Bob as our Parish Priest and friend - who could ever forget that lovely Liverpudlian man?