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Priest who was ‘charming and welcoming vicar’ is among coronavirus victims

23 March 2020

sophia myles

The Revd Peter Myles (centre) with his son, Ollie, and daughter, Sophia

The Revd Peter Myles (centre) with his son, Ollie, and daughter, Sophia

THE daughter of a retired priest who has died after contracting the coronavirus has urged people to stay away from elderly relatives to keep them safe.

Sophia Myles, an actor, confirmed on Saturday evening that her father, the Revd Peter Myles, had died. She wrote on Twitter: “It was the Coronavirus that finally took him.”

Mr Myles’ son, Ollie, wrote: “I would like to publicly thank the staff of the West Middlesex Hospital for providing him with such wonderful care during his final days and hours.”

Fr Myles, who was 77, was Vicar of St John the Baptist, Isleworth, in the diocese of London, from 1992 until his retirement in 2008. He had previously served at St Mary Abbots, Kensington, and St George’s, Campden Hill.

Ms Myles announced on 13 March that she was going to visit her father in intensive care. He had been “unwell for quite some time”, after being diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. “My Dad was present when I was born, and I feel like it would be a huge privilege for me to be there with him when he dies,” she said in a recorded message on Twitter.

She confirmed the following day that he had contracted the coronavirus, and urged people to keep their distance from elderly relatives: “Don’t underestimate the power of this virus.” She requested prayers for him. Having feared that she had seen him for the last time, she posted a picture of a visit to him in hospital on Friday of last week, writing: “This is the harsh reality of the Coronavirus.”

A former parishioner, Janet Olearski, posted: “I will continue to remember your father as the charming, welcoming, and supportive vicar of St. George’s, Campden Hill, back in the 1980s.”

The Vicar of St John the Baptist and St Mary the Virgin, Isleworth, the Revd David Maclure, said on Tuesday that many people in Isleworth remembered Fr Myles, a resident of Atfield House Care Home, with appreciation. “Some of our long-standing church members have special memories of Peter officiating at weddings and at christenings for their children, and several remained in touch with Peter after his retirement in 2008,” he said.

“During his time, he helped steer some significant reordering to the sanctuary around the altar area of St John’s, which we still enjoy today — a raised platform, new carpets, and removable rails for communion. He will be missed by our congregation. We were very sad to hear that he had passed away after his health had declined in recent months.”

Fr Myles studied at King’s College, London, and St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, before being ordained deacon in 1971.

As of Monday, 5683 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the UK, and 281 deaths. London has the most cases.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, writes:

“For five years in the early 1980s we shared a house with Peter and his family. I was a university chaplain living in the upstairs flat, Peter the priest-in-charge of St George's, Campden Hill and the chaplain to the Bishop of Kensington (who himself lived just a few doors down the road).

“He was a gentle and calm man, light-hearted and interested in others, with an acute, dry sense of humour. At the time I was national co-chair of Christian CND and a fearsome campaigner for nuclear disarmament. After losing my key one Summer's day I was discovered by Peter trying to get into the house, sweating, cross, extremely hot and bothered. He surveyed me quizically for a moment: “Ah,” he said, “the man of peace.” Kind but unforgettable.

“It was a pleasure to be his neighbour, to share in prayer and worship with him and to enjoy his company. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

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