Canon Hugh Beavan writes:
MARK COLE, who died in April, aged 73, after a long and
courageous fight against cancer, gave outstanding service for some
30 years to the diocese of Chelmsford, the Colchester episcopal
area, the Colchester deanery, and St Leonard's, Lexden.
Mark was always proud of his roots in Leicester and grateful for
the way the Christian faith shaped his life. Aged seven, he became
a chorister at St John the Baptist, Knighton: this meant choir
practice three times a week, and three fully choral services on
Sundays. Later, he became head chorister, and then a server and
sacristan. At St John's, Mark acquired his great love of church
music, and for well ordered and reverent traditional Anglican
worship. He also became a lifelong supporter of the Leicester
Tigers, and acquired a great love for rugby union and cricket.
St John's had a flourishing youth fellowship, where Mark first
met his future wife Barbara, who later became a Sunday-school
teacher. When Mark left Wyggeston Grammar School in 1958, his
headmaster wrote prophetically: "He should develop into a
responsible person of excellent character, and be capable of
obtaining professional qualifications. Later on he should attain a
Mark joined the Midland Bank (now HSBC), and studied for his
Institute of Bankers exams. Little could he have realised that, in
1987, he would be elected a fellow of the Chartered Institute of
Bankers, and become president of the Colchester and District Centre
He and Barbara were married at St John's in 1963, and moved to
their first house in Oadby, where they got involved in St Peter's.
They were to be blessed with two children, Simon and Joanna, and
later four grandchildren.
More than 30 years ago, Mark, Barbara, Simon, and Joanna moved
to Braiswick, in Essex, when Mark was appointed manager in the
Midland Bank's area office in Colchester. So began his long and
very active involvement in St Leonard's, Lexden: ten years as
churchwarden, more than 30 years on the PCC, member of the finance
and fabric committees, and a lay minister of the eucharist - a
ministry that he carried out with reverence and sensitivity.
Mark also gave generous service to the wider Church, in deanery
and in diocese: he was lay chair of the deanery synod for 14 years;
and for many years was a member of the diocesan synod, the diocesan
pastoral committee, and the Bishop's Council. It was on the
diocesan pastoral committee that I first met him in the early
1990s. We soon became good friends: I think we both got a
reputation for asking awkward questions. Mark ultimately chaired
the pastoral committee - a case of "If you can't beat them, join
them." His outstanding service to the diocese was belatedly
recognised in 2012, when the Bishop of Chelmsford awarded him the
Order of St Cedd.
Blessed is the parish that has someone with Mark's vision and
knowledge of the wider Church. It is thanks to people such as Mark
that St Leonard's, Lexden, is the outward-looking church it is
But his sympathies and interests were very wide: he served as
secretary of the Braiswick Residents' Association, and on the
national committee of the HSBC Pensioners' Association, and sang
for many years with Colchester Choral Society.
He had planned his thanksgiving service down to the last detail.
For the reading he chose the prologue to St John's Gospel, the
traditional Gospel for Christmas Day. He wrote: "This is my
favourite Bible passage, and sums up what I believe. I have always
found the verse 'He came unto his own and his own received him not'
to be very moving. Presumably it refers to Jesus's fellow
countrymen, but I always felt it sums up our inadequacies as
Christians in that we do not measure up to God's standards by a
Those of us who were privileged to know Mark thank God for his
inspiring example: his generous and sacrificial service to the
Church; his love and devotion as a husband, father, grandfather,
and father-in-law; and, not least, his deep trust and faith in God
in prosperity and in adversity. May he rest in peace and rise in