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Obituary: The Very Revd Derek Goodrich

19 November 2021

A correspondent writes:

THE Very Revd Derek Hugh Goodrich died on 6 September 2021, aged 94. I was struck by the many similarities between Derek and Bishop David Lunn whose obituary was published recently (Gazette, 24 September). Both re­­mained single throughout their full-time ministry, both were loved and respected wherever they went, both went to Cambridge Uni­versity and subsequently to St Stephen’s House, Oxford, both loved walking and writing about it, and it appears that dogs also enjoyed the company of both in their later years.

There were differences: Derek was from the south of England, not the north, never became a bishop, and never married. Sadly, it appears likely that they never met either at Cambridge or Oxford as Derek had left just before Bishop David arrived.

Derek was the only child of Hugh and May Goodrich. Hugh was the youngest of a large family. He lost a leg in the First World War, and, as a senior civil servant at the beginning of the Second World War, refused to serve in the War Office. He was transferred to the Probate Registry, and evacuated to Llandudno, where Derek spent most of his teenage years. Derek undertook National Ser­­vice as an ambulance driver.

After ordination, Derek served at St Andrew’s, Willesden Green, for five years. Here, he met the then Archbishop of the West Indies, Alan Knight, who was based in George­town in what was then British Guiana. He was inspired to go there, in 1957. His ministry in the country that soon became Guyana was in many different places, both in and near Georgetown, and further east. It also included various diocesan responsibilities.

Derek believed that the Bishop of Guyana should be Guyanese, but was delighted to be invited to become Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Georgetown. He served there be­­tween 1984 and 1993, and super­vised the implementation of vital repairs to the largest wooden build­ing in the world, and the necessary fund-raising. 

He remained in Guyana for an­­other seven years, as Priest-in-Charge of the open-air chapel of St Aloysius. By then, he had taken on two dogs, who moved into his seat whenever he moved out of it during services.

He then enjoyed more than 20 years in retirement at the College of St Barnabas, Ling­field, and helped to lead worship for nearly the whole of that period. In 2015, he reflected: “I have been blessed with many great friends at the College. . . I have always re­­garded myself as a parish priest. For me that has been the best job in the world.” On 4 March, the 20th anniversary of moving in, he said of his of his options in 2000: “I then received two letters on the same day. . . The defin­ite nature of the second seemed to be the Holy Spirit in action, and I have never regretted my acceptance.”

For the order of service for his requiem, Ruthy Richards-Levi, who assists at the College, put together photos from family and friends. The photo on the back was Derek setting off on his motorbike to visit parish­ioners in rural areas. And thus a motorbike-powered hearse took him to the crematorium.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

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