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20 November 2020

Ian Gordon writes:

FURTHER to the Very Revd Christopher Armstrong’s fine obituary for Canon John Dilnot (Gazette, 13 November), I knew Canon John — as he liked to be called — during the last and crowning stage of his ministry as Vicar of St Mary’s and St Eanswythe’s, Folkestone. His lasting memorial in parish is twofold.

Together with our then curate, the Revd Colin Laxon, and a substantial grant from the Church Urban Fund, he oversaw the transformation of a run-down parish hall, which also housed a congregation displaced by war damage, into a social outreach centre in one of the very poorest areas of the town and a revitalised chapel shared with the Greek Orthodox community in south-east Kent.

The project that I believe was closest to his heart, however, was the complete rebuilding of St Eanswythe’s Cof E Primary School opposite the church, housed in a typical, inadequate 1901 building. This involved Canon John in countless hours of meetings with the then Department of Education, Kent County Council, Canterbury diocese, and other agencies. His patience in seeing this project to fruition brought the school a building fit for the 21st-century curriculum and a level of educational achievement which blossoms to this day.

I also have personal cause to be grateful for his pastoral concern and comfort at a particularly difficult period of my life.

He gave unstintingly of himself, never expecting anything in return and, as is all too common, his gifts were never fully appreciated until after he retired.

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