Cauliflower on coffin for veteran churchgoer

15 July 2016

Val White

Vegetable patch: Tom Borley insisted on having a cauliflower instead of flowers at his funeral

Vegetable patch: Tom Borley insisted on having a cauliflower instead of flowers at his funeral

A PARISHIONER who attended the same church in the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich for 94 years has died, aged 96.

Tom Borley, who died peacefully in June, had been a member of the congregation of St Mary’s, Old Newton, in Stowmarket, from the age of two, when his father first carried him to a Sunday service, the Rural Dean of Stowmarket, Canon Barbara Bilston, said in his funeral address.

Since then, Mr Borley had attended church every Sunday, with the exception of four years’ war service with the Royal Artillery in northern Italy, Northern Africa, and the Middle East, from 1942.

In 1954, he became a verger at St Mary’s, a post he held for 60 years; he received the Bishop’s Award for Long Service in 2011, in recognition. His father and grandfather had also served as vergers at the church before him, for 90 years between them.

Mr Borley was also honoured as a Royal Maundy Pensioner, when the Queen visited St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 2009. He was married to Freda, who died in 1982, aged 60, and had a daughter, Pearl, two grandchildren, and several great grandchildren.

His funeral, conducted by the Priest-in-Charge of St Mary’s, the Revd Val White, was attended by 138 people. Mr Borley insisted on having a cauliflower, instead of flowers, on his coffin; he also chose Psalm 15, Mrs White said, because “it was the blueprint for his life. It was the ideal he strove for, the way he believed that as Christians we should live their lives.”

In her address, Canon Bilston said: “Tom believed passionately that everybody in the community had a part to play, and he set a cracking example himself. Whatever was going on, he was there.

“Tom was known by his faith, his openness, honesty, devotion to his work, his family, his friends and workmates, loyalty and service to the church, his love, all in the service of God.”

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