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23 January 2015

A correspondent writes:

THE Revd Cyril Payne, who died on 27 December, aged 88, was the youngest child of four children, and was brought up in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where he attended the County Boys' Grammar School. After leaving school, he joined the local Income Tax office, before doing National Service in the Fleet Air Arm as a photographer. That sparked a lifelong interest in photography.

On demobilisation, he applied to read Classics at Durham University. So chaotic was the higher-education system in Britain at the end of the war that he was transferred from Durham to Bristol with no say in the matter. This turned out to be a blessing, and something that he valued for the rest of his life. He thrived at the University of Bristol, where he read Greek, History, and Philosophy. He then attended Lincoln Theological College from 1953 to 1955, before his ordination in St Paul's Cathedral.

Long before this, in the church choir in Maidenhead, he met Shelah in 1947, and, once he had finished his training, they duly married.

His first curacy was at Southall. This was a very tough beginning to a professional life that remained full of challenges, but it was a great training ground, and ultimately extremely rewarding. In 1958, he became one of the curates of Christchurch Priory, in charge of St Mary's, Somerford. He remained in Somerford, where the couple's first two children were born, until soon after the harsh winter of 1963, when he was offered his first living, that of Otterbourne, be- tween Winchester and Southampton.

There, his three children spent their early years; and, in overseeing the difficult transformation of a small village into a dormitory town in the 1960s and '70s, he was supported by Shelah. They always worked as a team, Shelah playing the part of vicar's wife in a way that few could emulate.

After many years at Otterbourne, he was offered the living of Milford-on-Sea in 1975, and there they remained until his retirement in 1990. For Cyril, this was a perfect living, and Shelah and Cyril spent many happy years there, and formed many lasting friendships.

On retirement, having developed a taste for the bracing air of the sea, and relishing the space of a large attic to accommodate his model railway, they decided to remain near by, and moved to Lymington. Not content to stop completely, Cyril continued working part-time for several years, first at Minstead, in the New Forest, where there was a vacant incumbency, and then as a retired priest assisting at St Thomas's, Lymington.

He will be remembered by many people for his huge dedication to the Church, and in particular for the healing ministry; for his long participation in church and local choirs; and for his love of all things to do with the clergy life. As he said himself, "I loved every minute of it, and thank God for the privilege of knowing so many wonderful people."

He gradually became frailer, and in the last two years lived in Belmore Lodge, where he was visited every day by Shelah, and very regularly by his many friends and family. He died while happily eating a Christmas lunch in the company of all his family.

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