John Lupton writes:
THE Revd Geoffrey Wrayford was a gentle, devoted, friendly person who got on with everyone. He was a priest, but that did not get in the way of his being a friend to anyone, and of their considering him as their friend.
He started his ministry in Gloucester diocese, and was ordained priest in 1964. In 1969, he was appointed Chaplain and then Vicar of Chelmsford Cathedral, before moving to Canvey Island in 1974. In 1980, he moved to Frome, where he served in several churches until 1992, when he became Vicar of Minhead and Chaplain to the Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust.
He and his wife, Jan, retired to Lympstone in 2003. Here, he was greatly loved by the congregations of parishes where he continued to preside and often played the organ. He got involved with local community organisations, and enjoyed singing in choirs.
He frequently wore a fisherman’s cap; this was a pointer to his love of Tall Ships and the Merchant Navy. He crewed on several long voyages on square-rigged vessels, which entailed, among other tasks, furling the sails while perched high up on the rigging of a rocking boat, at sea; he went back for more. Back on dry land, he regularly conducted a Sea Sunday service at the harbour, accompanied by the Lympstone Training Band, to raise funds for the Mission to Seafarers to support those who toil away bringing goods for us and taking our produce all over the world, unseen and overlooked by us.
Geoffrey also usually carried a stick: not any old stick, but one fashioned from a stick cut from a local hedge and fitted with a handle formed from a deer’s antler. This was very appropriate to Geoffrey’s love of the countryside and his enthusiasm for his allotment and Dartmoor. He was from a family some of whom lived and farmed near or on Dartmoor, and his grandparents are buried in the churchyard at Cheriton Bishop, where his and Jan’s ashes will be buried. He joined the Dartmoor Association and could frequently be found attending visits and lectures run by them. His home was bedecked with many watercolours of Dartmoor by well-known artists.
Geoffrey married his childhood sweetheart, Janet, in Torquay in 1965, and they enjoyed 57 happy years together before her death last autumn. They had four children, Sarah, Roger, Andrew, and Peter, and several grandchildren. The family shares his love of the moors; Andrew works there and is one of the Dartmoor Rescue Group.
Geoffrey was always very interested in people and the natural world; he was a fine example of a great parish priest and set us all a high standard on how to live our lives. His holiness shone through right to the end. God bless him.
The Revd Geoffrey Wrayford died on 23 April, aged 83.