A correspondent writes:
THE Revd Ronald Charles Treasure died on 4 July, after a short
spell in hospital. Only months before, he had celebrated his 90th
birthday with his twin sister, Pamela, and had since enjoyed
revisiting his large family: five sons, a daughter, and 16
A full church at Kirbymoorside heard heartfelt tributes to his
work and character, influential far beyond the bounds of the
parishes that he had served: Whitby as an assistant curate, North
Hull, Malton, and Kirby itself. Retirement had come with a renewal
of spirit, and advances on several fronts: conducting retreats,
guiding the Diocesan Renewal Fellowship, and working for Amnesty
Ronald was a priest of rare gifts, in whom a fine intellect and
deep and prayerful faith were allied to a lively interest in
people, a willingness to listen with patience and good humour, and,
always, to pray. All was grounded in the faith that he had learned
at home and school, tested in war, enlarged at Cuddesdon, and
deepened in parish ministry - supported through all by shared faith
and the complementary gifts of a loving marriage of 66 years.
Ronald's was the kind of upper-middle-class home where privilege
meant responsibility and leadership. His father, who had commanded
a battery on the Somme, read the lessons; his mother presided over
the deanery Mothers' Union, and entertained clergy at summer
parties on the lawn; Pamela ran an ambitious Sunday school. This
near-vanished and not always comfortable world was a prime nursery,
alongside vicarage families, of Anglican priesthood.
From early days, there was much to test character, to shape the
compassionate priest. He saw the deprivation and misery of his
mother's depression, and the work of faith in her recovery. His
talented sister Anne died, aged 16, from tuberculosis. He did not
share his father's love of horses, though he was always ready for a
day's beagling. With a growing sense of religious vocation, he
realised that he would not follow in his father's timber and
At Shrewsbury School he was head of his house, and he won an
exhibition to read Modern History at Oriel College, Oxford. The
origin of a lifelong concern for social justice can be traced to
his encounter with bomb-battered Liverpool, where at Everton the
school maintained a boys' club.
So the young officer in the Coldstream Guards, who led a platoon
in the intense fighting in the Normandy bocage, was no
callow youth, but already something of the thoughtful,
conscientious person revealed in his diary. Ronald was wounded. It
took a day to get him to a casualty centre. Then the hospital ship
was sunk, and many were drowned. Ronald, hazy with morphine, was
lowered into the remaining boat. After six months' recuperation, he
returned to his battalion in Germany. He had seen enough of war to
ensure that he would never talk about it.
At post-war Oxford, he relished much of theology, rowed keenly,
and, in his first summer vacation, on a trip to Scandinavia, met
Eliza Chance. At Cuddesdon, he was the first married student,
returning to the cottage he shared with Eliza and soon their first
baby. For Ronald, it was a Catholic training, with the discipline
and sacramental focus that would sustain and inspire him to the
Only a few landmarks of his ministry can be recorded here. At
Victorian St Hilda's, and in Whitby's clifftop church, Ronald
appreciated the busy fishing port. The ruins would often come to
mind when he shared in or led retreats, with the nuns of the later
house. Tramp- ing over the moors, he first experienced what would
be a lifetime's source of refreshment and delight.
With a cure of 15,000 souls in the vast housing estate of north
Hull, the heavy footwork of daily visiting, and the administrative
load in a community that could offer little lay help came the
chance to build a fine new church, which was consecrated by
Archbishop Ramsey. To parishioners, the family's green Austin Seven
van, their modest style, and the ever-open vicarage door spoke
plainly: it was not to be "them and us".
At Malton, the challenge, like the congregation and
expectations, was different. Ronald came to heal, after his
predecessor's abrupt departure. For some years, he had solid,
appreciative support, but few were ready for change. The
congregation was weakened when some moved to Old Malton, preferring
Prayer Book matins to parish communion.
He became Rural Dean, but needed the bigger challenge that the
diocese failed to offer. Perhaps he was ill advised when he
resolved to stay on to rebuild, but he found inspiration and
reached many in the Charismatic ministry of prayer and healing. As
a district nurse recalled, his number was the first one to call.
Some may be uncomfortable with so direct appeal to the Holy Spirit,
but the theology was well grounded, and never broke the bounds of
Catholic discipline and training. Nor did it take over from the
main work of a diligent, caring parish priest.
He was a great walker along many British and Alpine trails.
Eliza shared his enthusiasm for walking, though not the others: old
churches and trains. Their last great venture was to the Holy Land,
a fitting last journey to crown a life of dedication, of serving,
helping, and learning to the end.