Obituary: THE VEN. JOHN DEREK RISDON HAYWARD

by
13 May 2010

Colin Menzies writes:

THE Ven. Derek Hayward, who died on 26 April, aged 86, was the diocesan secretary of London from 1975 until his retirement in 1993, and will be remembered as a man of independent and often quite radical thinking. His work was underpinned by a quiet but strong Christian sense of social jus­tice, nurtured in Sheffield during his curacy and first incumbency, and underpinned by the tragedy that afflicted his son Leo.

His childhood had been far from straightforward. Born in England, he saw relatively little of his father, who had extensive business interests in Calcutta. His mother, therefore, under­took much of his upbringing, aided by her parents when she was out in India with her husband. At the earliest possible age, he was sent to board at a prep school, and then went on to the relatively new school at Stowe, whose Evangelical tradition struck a chord with him (although his own churchmanship later became more broadly based).

The war had started by the time he left school, but, after Dunkirk, he was told to delay his joining up, and taught for a term at Summerfields in Oxford. After the abbreviated war­time course at Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the 27th Lancers, with whom he served in the Middle East and Italy, being wounded on two occasions. In the closing weeks of the war, awarded special leave to see his parents, he flew unauthorised to India; his father persuaded him to stay and help run the family-owned distillery there. Years later, Derek would chuckle at the thought of how his Middlesex clergy would have reacted had they known that a small chimney on a factory in Calcutta still bore the painted inscription “Hay­ward’s Gin”.

He spent seven years in Calcutta, but found it difficult to establish a rapport with his father. He later de-scribed his “Damascus experience” as going to the cathedral to pray on learning of the King’s death in 1952, and coming out convinced that or­dina­tion was his calling. He resigned from the business, and returned to England.

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Michael Adie, later Bishop of Guildford, was at the front door of Westcott House when Derek arrived in Cambridge. Derek asked him “Do you think they will have me here?” In the event, he read oriental languages at Trinity; despite a 12-year gap in his formal education, he took a First in Part I before switching to theology.

He was sent as a curate to St Mary’s, Bramall Lane, a parish in a run-down part of Sheffield. There was no curate’s house, and he had dilapidated digs with running water in the kitchen and the lavatory, but no bath. In 1959, he was appointed Vicar of St Silas’s, Gillcar; Derek refused to live in the pleasant vicarage, instead taking a rather run-down house among the back-to-backs and mul-tiple occupancies of his parish.

Hugh Buckingham (also later an Archdeacon) became his curate, and found that Derek was putting the many spare rooms to use, accommo­dating tramps, students, and ex-Borstal boys. Michael Adie, by then incumbent of a neighbouring parish, remembers many suppers with Derek at the kitchen table, with guests who might include a titled local lady and Derek’s Muslim student lodger. Another Sheffield incumbent, the un­conventional Alan Ecclestone, greatly inspired him.

After six years in Sheffield, he tested his vocation at Taizé, and tried to write a book: but it didn’t work for him. Bishop Stopford of London of­fered him the incumbency of Isle­worth. Its splendid vicarage was part of a handsome Georgian terrace, but the church, gutted by fire in 1943, was still in ruins. Derek quickly persuaded the diocese that it must be replaced by a new and smaller church within the intact Georgian walls. He worked with the architect Michael Blee to achieve something that respected the old while providing something new and practical.

He stayed at Isleworth for 30 years, until his retirement. The large vicar­age encouraged Derek to invite former Cambridge friends to visit, and, through one, he met Tessa Kaye, who became his wife in 1965. He was proud of their two children, Leo and Natasha, and appalled when Leo was struck down in childhood by a rare disease that soon rendered him speechless and incapable of co-ordinated movement. Leo lived to be over 30, supported by the tremendous care and devotion of his parents.

Derek was distressed and uncom­pre­hending at this awful turn of events, but it never affected his out­ward demeanour, and it strengthened his compassion for others. He soon became a trustee (and subsequently chairman) of the medical charity to promote research into that disease, and the care of those suffering from it. In retirement, he became a devoted grandfather to Natasha’s children. Tessa, a superb cook with several suc­cessful books to her credit, was always a warm hostess when they enter­tained (something they both loved doing).

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In 1974, Bishop Ellison appointed him Archdeacon of Middlesex, and was so impressed by his achievements that, only the next year, he moved him to be the new diocesan secretary. His skills in administration and decision-taking, learnt in business, came to the fore, especially when Graham Leonard became Bishop. Leonard quickly devolved a great deal to Derek.

Derek’s style was to ask the awkward question, put forward the radical solution, and resource the diocese to advance the Church’s mission. He successfully tackled several issues about the redundancy of buildings, although not all were concluded as easily as he had hoped. In the days before email, he insisted on seeing all incoming post; staff soon recognised the scribbled “A word? DH” as ominous.

Derek could appear buccaneering in his methods, but, to the end of his life, he was genuinely surprised when people did not follow his analysis of a problem and his solution to it. Nobody can recall his having lost his cool in any circumstances, but he could sometimes make his dis­approval of people clearer than he perhaps intended, especially his disapproval of the Church Com­mis­sioners and their investment policy.

He got about the diocese by motorbike, and surprised strangers by turning up at meetings in leathers and crash helmet, removed to restore his dapper appearance and smart suit. After a near-accident at Bath after retirement, he gave up motorcycling as unsuitable for an octogenarian.

Derek used to make resources available from diocesan funds he had squirrelled away — “I’ll see if I’ve got something in my back pocket that might do the trick” — but when David Hope arrived as Bishop, greater transparency was needed. After initial uncertainty, Derek forged a different kind of relationship with his new Bishop, and the two began to work on plans to reorganise the senior posts in the diocese, something that Derek had long wanted to do but had found to be a taboo subject with Leonard; but the subsequent departure of both men brought about a loss of impetus.

  One plan that did work was Derek’s idea of new diocesan offices, begun before his retirement. The foundation stone in the entrance hall is a fitting tribute to Derek’s far-sightedness: he arranged the finan-cing so that not a penny fell on the parishes in the diocese.

As a member of the General Synod, Derek was one of those who had spoken against the proposals to sell Church House, Westminster, but he failed to persuade enough people to win the day. He was delighted when Roy Lyon, a Synod “outsider”, later persuaded the Synod to overturn its previous decision. He later served on the Council of the Corporation of Church House, often making typ-ically witty but sharp suggestions for change, and invariably putting the investment managers through their paces.

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He enthusiastically supported St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy, and chaired it for ten years. The success of the appeal in the early 1990s owed much to his leadership. Long after

his retirement, he was deeply sad­dened by the charity’s recent difficulties.

He retired to Bath, where Tessa had family connections. They lived first in a beautiful Georgian terrace on Sion Hill, but, when he began to find the hill rather steep to climb, they moved to an equally beautiful con­version of a terraced house near the centre. He served on the Bath Preservation Trust, and as the chairman of the Herschel Museum, with a gusto that belied his age. Whatever he did, Derek brought to it his quizzical humour and well-considered solutions.

No matter how surprising those proposals might be, he would chuckle disarmingly at the end of making them. His was a free, active, and in­dependent spirit that is met all too rarely.

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