A correspondent writes:
CANON Eric Giles, who was born on Christmas Eve 1934, and died on Christmas Day 2015, spent nearly 50 years serving communities in the south-west of England.
Eric was a man of the people: he left school with few qualifications, and worked as an office clerk for nearly ten years, before training to become a priest. Never happier than when he was walking around the parish talking to local residents, this modest man, who had a great sense of humour, became a friend to many who would never go to church.
A gardener’s son, Eric was born in Tavistock, and left school at 16, to join a solicitors’ office in the Devon town. It was agreed that he should study for his articles, and so he visited his vicar to learn Latin. It was during these talks that he decided to become a priest.
In 1959, Eric entered Brasted Place, a pre-theological college in Kent, before moving on to Salisbury and Wells Theological College. He was ordained deacon at Exeter Cathedral in 1963, and became Assistant Curate at St Mary’s in Plympton, near Plymouth. He was ordained priest the next year, and married his wife, Sue, a year later.
In 1971, he became Rector of the pretty villages of Dumbleton, Wormington, Toddington, and Stanley Pontlarge in Gloucester diocese, where he spent eight years taking a very active part in village life, and becoming a keen supporter of the local cricket team.
In 1979, he moved to St John’s, Churchdown, still in Gloucestershire, where he served for two decades. During that time, he was also made Hon. Canon of Gloucester Cathedral.
He retired to Pershore in 1999, but instead of sitting back, he became Hon. Curate at St Mary’s in Wick, and officiated at many services there. He also became Chaplain to St Richard’s Hospice in Worcestershire, where he regularly ministered to the terminally ill.
Eric and Sue moved in 2013 to Portishead, where he joined the local choral society. His funeral service was held in St Peter’s parish church in Portishead, followed by an interment of ashes at St Andrew’s in Whitchurch, Devon. He leaves behind Sue, three daughters, and seven grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in Pershore Abbey on 14 February.