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10 September 2021

The Archbishop of Canterbury writes:

I HAD the good fortune to meet the Ven. Ian Russell (Gazette, 3 September) when I was at Cranmer Hall, Durham. I sat at the back of most lectures and found myself with the first-degree students from the university, all half my age or so. One of them was Chris Russell, who used to wake me up when I fell asleep. He introduced me to his visiting parents, Ian and Barbara.

Ian was a fairly new archdeacon, a species that was new to me. When they came to tea, I remember that he sat on the floor and played with the children. From the beginning, I saw someone who was serious about his love for people and his service to Christ and the Church of England. A distinguished parish priest, he kept his love for the structures and vocation of the Church of England, especially the parishes, in a way that both taught and inspired me.

Soon after he returned to Coventry, I received an invitation to look at a title post in Nuneaton, where we spent three very challenging years in his archdeaconry. I had the privilege of serving under him on a committee preparing a diocesan conference, in which he held together a deep prayerfulness, an absolute loyalty to the vision that the senior staff had arrived at and a superb attention to detail. It went very well as a result.

Ian was something of a mentor to me. He wrote graciously and firmly to set me right on more than one occasion. He was an adviser when I was responsible for a benefice. In the last few weeks in which I was in Nuneaton, my wife fell down the stairs and broke her ankle, about three days before the birth of our youngest. Ian and Barbara came round with stew. They were pastoral to their fingertips.

I could go on for a long time, but want to conclude by saying that I will miss him and his wisdom. The Church of England had a good and faithful servant in Ian.

The Rt Revd Dr Colin Buchanan adds: Ian Russell came to St Jude’s, Nottingham, in 1975, five years after his old college, St John’s, had moved to Bramcote, just outside Nottingham. He quickly gave himself to assisting the college in every way possible for a local incumbent, including joining the council, working on its sub-committees, having students on placement, preaching in chapel, and being constantly available in both practical and moral support — all the more valuable because of his punctilious attention to detail and reliability. In due course, after going to Coventry, he moved from being vice-chair to chairing the college council; and he then led the council in appointing Dr Christina Baxter principal. For St John’s, Ian was over more than 20 years an unsung hero.


Canon Christopher Hall writes:

CANON Stephen Sidebotham (Gazette, 20 August), with Peggy, his wife, on their return to England, brought with them their commitment to Hong Kong and its people.

For 22 years, he was deeply involved with the Bishop Ho Ming Wah Association (BHMWA). Named after the former Bishop of Hong Kong, in 1987, it had opened a community centre in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields primarily to meet the needs of Chinese migrants from Hong Kong.

Stephen was a member of the BHMWA Council from 1995 until 2017, except for the years when they were back in Hong Kong (1999-2005).

Throughout the St Martin’s Renewal Project, led by the then Vicar, Nick Holtam, Stephen was much involved with planning the temporary operation from St Anne’s, Soho, as well as the major fund-raising needed to equip the renewed premises. The refurbished Centre opened in 2009, to the delight of the friends and members of the Association. The bigger, more pleasant space, with a fit-for-purpose kitchen and modern equipment, made possible a range of activities to meet the different needs of a growing membership. The expanded lunch club was particularly successful at reducing the isolation felt by many elderly members.

Alice Chan its present chair, marooned by Covid in New Zealand, writes: “Stephen brought not only a calming influence, but also a human warmth to everyone. As vice-chair from 2012 to 2016, Stephen oversaw the development of new projects and service improvements. Linking to the befriending service, Stephen always wanted to do more to support the Chinese-speaking carers, who often feel isolated, not knowing how to access the carer-support resources.’’

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