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26 July 2013

The Rt Revd Rupert Hoare writes:
AFTER just one curacy of three years in Coventry, the Revd David Wingate, who died on 15 June, aged 91, was appointed Vicar of Wolston, halfway between Coventry and Rugby, in 1952. In the four years that he was there, our family got to know him, his wife, Olga, and their family very well.

David's ministry was hugely appreciated by my parents, who were active members of the congregation at Wolston; they found him a delight to work with, and continued to talk about him with great affection long after he left the parish. They looked back on that time as golden years for church and village.

An immediate talking-point on David's arrival was his beard. We were not used to a vicar with a beard. My sister Elizabeth, then aged 15, remembers being impressed by how smart and neat it was. My youngest sister, Frances, aged five, on the other hand, initially refused to come to church because of it. She was quickly won over by his friendliness and kindness, as we all were. David and Olga opened their home to everyone; for example, the church fête was held in the vicarage garden.

It was David's quiet and godly humility, combined with his friendliness and genuine interest in people, and his readiness to join in whatever was going on, which was so attractive. One year, my parents wrote an opera for the village choir to perform. Everyone had a part to play, and the Vicar was duly cast as the villain of the piece, namely the Regional Controller, the complete opposite of David's own character and role. We all have the warmest memories of him and his ministry in Wolston.

We had no direct relationship with him after he left, but always felt sure that, whether as parish priest or hospital chaplain, he would exemplify all that was best in the ordained ministry of the Church of England.

Joan Hotton adds: David Wingate, with his wife Olga, came to minister in St John's, Cotehill, with Cumwhinton, villages outside Carlisle, in the early 1970s, and stayed until he retired 15 years later. He very quickly endeared himself to this community and beyond. He and Olga were a team.

David ensured that we became involved with deanery events that extended our church fellowship, as he did also in his chaplaincy of Garlands Hospital (an old-style mental hospital). The same plays and nativities acted at St John's were also performed there for the residents.

David united the two different communities of Cotehill and Cumwhinton as no other incumbent before him had. He fought for the two to be joined by the more encompassing word "with" rather than "and". There was no church in the village of Cumwhinton except the village hall, built in 1908, when it had been dedicated to be used as a place of worship. David was responsible for getting the hall renovated, and starting a popular monthly service there. He encouraged services with the Guides and Brownies, and he took groups of young people for adventure holidays in St John's in the Vale.

The vicarage was a welcoming open house for everyone, including those from Garlands, who came every Sunday afternoon, and the Young Eaglets, who had the run of the garden. We have wonderful memories of the summer fêtes held there. David had the gift of being able to rope in even non-churchgoers to help with these. With his handsome beard, he would usually win the competition for the owner who looked most like his dog - Tess was a friendly old English sheepdog.

There was not one villager who did not have a venue for Christmas dinner, because David and Olga shared their family and home with their usual generosity. We were all delighted when he became a Canon of Carlisle Cathedral.

Working on an ancient typewriter, David also started the monthly newsletter, which, from when the parish joined up with All Saints', Scotby, in the mid-1990s, is now called "Pow Maughan", the name of the beck that meanders through, and unites, the now one parish of Scotby and Cotehill with Cumwhinton. Memories of, and gratitude to, David as our faith leader will always meander through our hearts.

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