Family and friends mark first anniversary of Rev John Suddards's death
THE FAMILY, friends and former flock of murdered vicar Rev John Suddards gathered at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury to mark the first anniversary of his tragic death.
Around 110 parishioners and relatives of the priest attended a service dedicated to the man who had meant so much to them on Sunday morning, just a year after he was stabbed to death at the New Vicarage.
His sister Hilary Bosworth and her family as well as close friends of the clergyman all travelled to the town to join worshippers in remembering the kind and highly spiritual man at a special Lent service.
Pictures of Mr Suddards were displayed in the Stafford Chapel where parishioners were invited to light candles and pay their respects to their former vicar.
During her sermon, Thornbury vicar Rev Dr Jan van der Lely, who was appointed to the parish last September praised the ‘christlike’ way in which Mr Suddards conducted himself, preparing a light meal for a homeless man, in the moments leading up to his untimely death.
She said: "John was known for feeding the hungry, sharing his bread with the needy. By doing so he was trying to feed not only the stomach; he wanted to show the love of Christ to the apparently unlovable.
"This way John trod, opening his door, giving help to strangers, not defending himself when threatened. He lived, that last night, in the most christlike way possible."
The late clergyman’s sister generously donated £1,000 to refurbish the children’s corner at St Mary's Church, used by the Hopscotch Pre-school Group launched by her brother.
This was one of the major positive changes Mr Suddards brought to St Mary’s Church in his brief time in Thornbury.
A memorial garden was at St Paul’s The Hackett and a special fund was also set up to support homeless people as they rebuild their lives and helping those studying for ordination with the cost of books.
"Out of John’s death will come great fruit," Dr van der Lely told the assembly on Sunday. "Already a garden is beginning at St Paul’s. Here at St Mary’s by Hilary’s request the children's corner will be refurbished in John’s memory, and that will bring great fruit with our children and their parents, taking up and continuing and growing the work which John developed with the very young."
Mr Suddards, 59, was stabbed to death at his home on Monday, February 13 last year. Stephen Farrow was convicted of murdering the vicar as well as Worcestershire widow Betty Yates in November.
Dr van der Lely told the Gazette she was delighted with the service, which was held three days after the .
"Hilary Bosworth, John’s sister brought a big group of family and family and friends to join us for that service," she said. "They couldn’t be there on the actual anniversary which was last Wednesday, so we decided to do it on Sunday. They was very pleased. They found everybody welcoming and they stayed for coffee and chatted for quite a long time."