The Ven. David Garnett writes:
THE Revd John Slyfield, who died on 18 June, aged 81, was
blessed with great humour, humanity, and spirituality, but was also
very practical, and liked to get things done yesterday.
I first met him in 1996, when we moved to Taddington in North
Derbyshire. He called to ask whether there was anything that he
could do to help us as we unpacked, and brought with him hot drinks
and cakes. He had retired as Vicar of Tideswell in 1992, to nurse
and care for his first wife, Barbara (Bar), with great devotion,
living in a bungalow in Taddington with spectacular views over the
Thus began a friendship that lasted until his death. Two days
before, I anointed him and gave him holy communion in Ashgate
Hospice. Over the years, we had talked, joked, walked, and said the
daily Office together. He was very supportive of my ministry as an
John was ordained in 1968, and served as an assistant curate of
St Mary in the Marsh; Rector of the Claydons, Buckinghamshire, and
Rural Dean; Vicar of Westoe, Durham; Vicar of Tideswell from 1982;
and Rural Dean of Buxton.
For many years, he was a spiritual director, and chaired the
Derby Diocesan Spirituality Group. From 1995 to 2002, he was
diocesan spiritual director, and acted as a kind of broker, finding
the right spiritual director for each individual. People were
greatly helped by John's wisdom.
John and Bar had three children, Vivien, Tim, and David. Bar
died in 2000, and Tim died in a traffic accident in 2006. John was
devoted to them, and to his seven grandchildren.
In 2002, John married Margaret, whose late husband, Stephen
Elkington, had been a cleric. The same year, John became
Priest-in-Charge of Beeley and Edensor. John and Margaret had 11
happy years together, making frequent visits to Margaret's former
home in South Africa.
John was a good cook, very hospitable and sociable. He was
hugely supportive of our son during and after an operation for
acromegaly. They planted daffodil bulbs together. There was often a
handwritten card or letter, especially at times of crisis or
In his last letter to me, he wrote that he had terminal cancer
of the oesophagus. "I find myself quite content to accept the
prognosis. I think it may be harder for family and friends . . . We
spent a glorious Easter with Vivien at Ashbourne. It was very
exciting driving through the banks of snow six feet deep. It never
ceases to delight me to discover masses of snowdrops in bloom under
the melting snow. . .
"It is hard to imagine that a week ago we were walking within
sight of the Indian Ocean to a chorus of glossy blue starlings,
drongoes, and hornbills tapping on the open win- dows for bits of
cheese. What wonderful worlds!"