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24 January 2014

Canon Philip Miller writes:
THE Revd Brian Vaudrey Bason, who died on 4 December, aged 86, was brought up in West Gorton, Manchester, where his lifelong fondness for Anglo-Catholic worship was nurtured by attendance at St Benedict's, Ardwick.

He spent his National Service as a miner down the Bradford pit near by, before his time at Leeds University, and the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. Fr Bason was ordained by Bishop Wand at St Paul's in 1951, and served his titleat St Augustine's, Haggerston, under the tutelage of Fr Wilson, who dedicated one of his books to him.

He returned north in 1955, and became the Vicar of St Hilda's, Audenshaw, for the next 34 years, until retirement. His ministry there was far from conventional, andhe used his considerable musical talents not only in worship, but also to entertain in the pubs and working-men's clubs of the parish. He was in demand as a witty and compelling preacher and speaker, reiterating over and over again that "The church is not a cosy club for pious people." He looked to his congregation to perform practical Christian acts in the community, and began the famed annual trip for disabled people to Southport, for which he and his people planned and saved hard all year long.

He was outspoken on many occasions, and became a member of the Communist Party. He believed that it was wrong for him to claim a stipend from the Church while he had gifts that could sustain his priestly ministry. This led him, in 1973, to become a master at Audenshaw Grammar (later High) School, where he taught RE and rugby for the next 26 years, often joking that RE stood for "rugby education" in his case.

Pastoral work in the parish was undertaken in the evening or at weekends, and he faithfully visited the sick and housebound, despite his own personal squeamishness. His energetic life as a pastor and teacher was sustained by the mass, which he offered daily until his retirement.

Fr Bason was no lightweight, and was a lifelong learner. A fluent German speaker, he was still studying works of German literature, and had recently been learning Hungarian. He had a good knowledge of Swedish, and continued to be widely read and articulate in many disciplines. He devoured the works of Richard Dawkins, and constantly challenged clerical visitors to his home on matters of faith.

Growing physical weakness characterised his last ten years, but, although he never married, he received enormous consolation to the end from the care and ministrations of his close friend and companion.

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