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Obituary: Canon Anthony Stidolph

18 June 2021

The Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS and the Revd Julie Newson write:

CANON Anthony Stidolph, who died on 24 May, aged 66, at his home in Paphos, Cyprus, was once described as “an answer to a headmaster’s prayer”. He spent 24 years of his 41 years’ ministry as a chaplain and teacher in five public schools. He was also a much loved parish priest and an accomplished musician.

Born in South Shields, Robert Anthony Stidolph moved south to study at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, but was characteristically modest about his musical achievements. He gave organ recitals for fund-raising events and wrote music for the parishes and schools where he ministered, but he never sought to have it published.

After graduating at the conservatoire, he went to St Stephen’s House, Oxford, to train for the ministry, and served his title at Hove Parish Church. Sadly, during his diaconate, his training incumbent died, leaving a wife and young family; Anthony was quickly ordained to the priesthood to look after the busy parish.

After four years, he became Team Vicar of St Luke’s, Queen’s Park, in Brighton, where his pastoral ministry, work with young people, and skill as a preacher and communicator were well received. Although not from a privileged background himself, he felt a call to become a school chaplain and found that staff and students alike responded to his loving, warm, and friendly personality, combined with a genuine compassion for young people with their personal struggles and difficulties.

After seven years as Chaplain at Cheltenham College, Anthony moved to be Senior Chaplain at Wellington College, and then Chaplain at Radley College, during which time he was made an Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. After three school chaplaincies and resisting “head-hunting” from other public schools, Anthony decided that he needed a change of scene and returned to parish life to be be Rector of Worth in Sussex.

Five years later, he felt that he wanted to return to school chaplaincy, but in a different setting; so he moved to be Chaplain of Peterhouse, in Zimbabwe. This proved to be a challenge for someone who hoped to influence future leaders of that country while President Mugabe was still in control. His contract was not renewed, and Anthony returned to spend a short time as Chaplain at Llandovey College in Wales.

Being an only child with no close family, and liking a warmer climate, Anthony moved to Cyprus, where, as an associate priest in Paphos, he looked after those coming to the island for their weddings. He finally retired in February 2020, and, a year later, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The Anglican pastoral team in Paphos provided care and support so that he could die in his own home, and he described his final weeks as happy and peaceful. He leaves behind many friends and grateful parishioners and former pupils — and lots of music that he composed.

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