A correspondent writes:
THE Ven. Leslie Stanbridge, who died peacefully at home on 19
March, aged 94, had been a tour de force in the diocese of
York. He had many ministries, but is best remembered as Archdeacon
of York from 1972 to 1988.
He was born in Bromley, in south-east London. His mother died
when he was only five, and he was brought up by his eldest sister,
Clara. To escape the house, Leslie would cycle to town to explore
the dockyards: his sister and father thought he had gone cycling in
the country. This love of cycling remained with him.
His poor eyesight meant that his war service was in the Pay
Corps, stationed in Leicester. It was here that his vicar, Cyril
Whipp, set him on the path to ordination. Leslie trained at St
John's College, Durham, and was ordained priest in 1950. After
serving his title in the diocese of Rochester, he returned to the
north-east and to St John's College, in 1951, where he served both
as Tutor and (from 1952) as Chaplain until, in 1955, he was
appointed as Vicar of St Martin's, Kingston-upon-Hull. In that
parish, in one year, he prepared 102 people for confirmation.
Leslie left in 1964, moving to Cottingham, where he served as
Rector until 1972.
In 1972, he was, in his own words, plucked from ministry by
Archbishop Donald Coggan to become Archdeacon of York; but in fact
the whole diocese became his parish. Although rooted in the
archdeaconry of York, his influence was over the whole. He was
pastoral and available, meticulous and organised, public and yet
private, unwavering and never courting popularity.
With no secretary, Leslie's administration was carried out
immaculately on his typewriter and a Gestetner. Friends remember
the sounds of staying with him: the filing cabinet banging shut,
the front door opening and shutting, and then Leslie on his bicycle
flying past the front window to get to another meeting.
He was Secretary for Mission and Ministry, Warden of Readers,
responsible for clergy conferences, Bishop's Adviser at selection
conferences, member of the College of Preachers, co-ordinator of
the Diocesan Healing Fellowship, and founder of Yorkshire Historic
Churches, and of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's "Living
George Bennett, his vicar at Erith, opened his eyes to the
healing ministry. Leslie's close association with Crowhurst
Christian Healing Centre in Sussex was life-long, and led to the
founding of the Diocese of York Healing Fellowship, and a long-term
involvement with St Leonard's Hospice.
Archbishop Stuart Blanch once suggested to a very reluctant
Leslie that he should have a sabbatical in Jerusalem. That began
his love of the Holy Land, and his long interest in the politics
and people there. In retirement, Leslie continued to lead
pilgrimages abroad, especially to the Holy Land. He also led parish
pilgrimages to York Minster, and became a Minster guide.
Leslie's was, by any assessment, a notably active "retirement".
He became Succentor Canonicorum, and served as a Canon of York
Minster - for a grand total of 32 years, before he stood down in
2000, aged 80. He was made Archdeacon Emeritus. He remained
actively involved in the life of the Minster, in particular as an
enthusiastic member (and organiser) of the Minster Community
Walking Group, and in the life of the city, including serving as a
Director of St Leonard's Hospice in the 1990s. On Sundays, he
presided and preached in country churches, filling in during
interregnums, and covering sickness.
Leslie always tried to see the best in people, welcomed news
from friends, and made every effort to keep in touch. He sent 200
cards and letters each Christmas, until recently still produced by
turning the handle on the old Gestetner. He ran Bible-study groups
for the University of the Third Age, and Hartrigg Oaks, his home in
later years. He maintained a huge library, both theological and
secular, and had a wide-ranging collection of classical music,
including his beloved Bach and Haydn.
A requiem mass in thanksgiving for his life was celebrated in
York Minster on 30 March, attended by many robed clergy and
Readers, and friends and family from the diocese and elsewhere. His
ashes have been interred at Cottingham.