The Archdeacon of France and Monaco writes:
THE Anglican community in Dinard, France, has been shocked by the sudden death of their chaplain, Gareth Randall. He died on 16 August, aged 69, having suffered a heart attack.
Gareth John Randall was born in Essex in 1949 and attended East Ham Grammar School. He graduated in English from the University of Southampton, and spent the next three decades teaching English in secondary schools. From 1984 to 2006, he was Head of English at Dame Alice Owen’s School in Potter’s Bar, where he is fondly remembered as both an inspirational teacher and the producer of many dramatic productions.
It was during his time at Dame Alice Owen’s that he discerned a call to ordained ministry; and he was ordained in St Albans Cathedral in 1993. He served his title as a self-supporting minister at King Charles the Martyr, South Mymms, before moving to St Mary’s, Potters Bar, in 1998.
A French speaker since his student days, Gareth never lost his appetite for learning. As a teacher, he joined some of his pupils in taking GCSE Italian, in which he gained an A*.
Given Gareth’s love of European culture and languages — which he passed on to many of his pupils, it was natural that he became a regular locum chaplain at St Bartholomew’s, Dinard, soon after his ordination. Eventually, in 2007, he was appointed full-time chaplain. As in many chaplaincies of the diocese in Europe, Gareth was faced by distinctive pastoral challenges, in a context where chaplains and the people they serve are often “away from home”. In this demanding arena, Gareth’s focused tenacity, combined with pastoral sensitivity, brought cohesion and growth to this chaplaincy serving the coast of north-east Brittany.
An intelligent and often challenging preacher, he worked hard to make St Bartholomew’s a place of welcome, not least for those returning regularly for holidays in the area. His sensitivity to the history and culture of Brittany meant that ecumenical relationships were very good, and the Anglican community was never allowed to forget its wider context and rooting. The presence of many key figures in public life, both civic and ecclesial, at Gareth’s funeral is testimony to how well-integrated his ministry was.
Shortly before he died, Gareth had received a diagnosis of terminal cancer. His sudden and unexpected death leaves us grieving a dedicated and energetic priest.