L.V. (JOHN) SHAW - R.I.P 13th
Our father, "John" Shaw,
died in hospital on February 13th following a short illness, at the age of
93. He had been diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct - a rare cancer,
nothing common for Dad! - and underwent a palliative procedure on Friday
from which he seemed to recover, but he suffered a stroke in the early hours
of Saturday. We are thankful he did not live on with his mental powers
diminished. Instead, he was alert and involved with those around him to the
end. A few days before he died, a former fellow patient wrote to him in
hospital, apologising for not saying goodbye when he was discharged and
thanking Dad for his "rare bundle of positive energy" in the ward.
We chose a service of thanksgiving for Dad's
life and while thinking about how the funeral should be, we remembered
the many names by which he was known and about the different roles each
one of us play in our lives. He was Dad, Father-in-law, Grandad, Great
Grandad; son, son-in-law, nephew, uncle, cousin - of course, the list is
almost endless. With that in mind, we chose hymns which reflect that
idea, including "To the Name that brings salvation", "How sweet the name
of Jesus sounds", "Do not be afraid" (sung during the intercessions) and
"Tell out my soul".
The readings were from Wisdom 3 and 1
Corinthians 13, the latter because we felt that it summed Dad's
character up well.
Dad's Lay Reader's robes were laid out on
his usual chair during the service along with a photo of him with his
Members of the congregation as well as
family members recalled Dad's life and influence before we shared an
Agape meal in the social area at the back of the church, finally leaving
for the Committal at Breakspear Crematorium.
The Committal included the hymn "The day
Thou gavest" and the passage "Go forth upon thy journey" from "The dream
of Gerontius" was read.
We thank the clergy of All Hallows Church,
North Greenford, Pamela Heazell, Don Davis and Stephen Collier, for the
beautiful service they conducted for Dad and for their support of him in
his later years and of ourselves in our loss.
After the 8 o'clock service on Sunday 7th
March, Dad's ashes were interred in the Memorial Garden at All Hallows.
It was a glorious, though cold, morning and we were joined by a small
group of Dad's friends for the short service. Some snowdrops from the
garden now mark the spot.
Caroline Shaw and Bridget Perkin
Dad was baptised in the Anglican
Church at St Peter Port, Guernsey, and confirmed at St Thomas's, Hanwell. As
he grew up, Church-going slipped from his agenda, but after his marriage, my
mother re-introduced him to the practice, and the habit stuck! Although
Rugby Avenue is in the Parish of St Barnabas, because it is on the border of
the two parishes, when they came to live there in 1949 they assumed that All
Hallows was the local Church, and Dad remained a dedicated member of the
Church, serving with a long list of clergy, right until his last illness,
although bad weather forced him to stay at home on occasions. Of course,he
was a member of the "Guild of Servers", as he called it, and was
also admitted to the Office of Lay Reader in the Anglican Church in 1961,
and continued to be "Emeritus", meaning, he said, "retired but allowed to
preach occasionally", in his later years. My copy of Peake's Commentary on
the Bible, from my student days, was kept at Dad's right hand, and was
well-thumbed and filled with his annotations and cuttings from the
A fuller picture of my father's life with All Hallows is
given by his long-time friend, fellow-server and "partner in crime", John
not be an exaggeration to say that John was a caryatid at All Hallows , a
pillar . He performed many tasks with cheerful efficiency . The one that he
was pleased to end was ď Hall Letting Secretary Ē. This role is equivalent
to being ď Northern Ireland Secretary Ē in the British Cabinet : you need
efficiency to keep track of bookings so that you do not double book - John
had plenty of that; diplomacy to deal with awkward situations - John had
plenty of that and finally you need to be an insomniac to work late into the
night clearing up after clients; I do not know if John suffered from
sleeplessness, but as with most secretaries he did not enjoy this role and
he was happy when another victim took over .
licensed to be a Lay Reader, a role he fulfilled admirably. His erudite
sermons explained the meaning of words, phrases and customs so that Bible
passages were put into context. The sermons were lightened with humour, very
easy to listen to and gave much education . When John reached 70 he would
need to be re-licensed every year. The Vicar, Revd. Frank Brand, was
delighted to request the re-licensing as John was a valued member of the
Ministry Team .
governing of the Church , as John was a Lay Reader , he was automatically a
PCC member and member of the standing committee. During PCC meetings, John
would be sure to brighten the time with jokes and pithy comments. In
addition John had a time of being on the Deanery Synod .
biggest contribution to All Hallows was as Sacristan. The way that John
became Sacristan was typical of John; over fifty years ago when the
Sacristan left, I think it must have been Jack Andrews, no replacement was
appointed, so after a couple of weeks John saw the need and he appointed
himself. John taught himself the work that was needed. Typically of John he
was very thorough and conscientious; many hours on a Saturday were spent
polishing, cleaning and laying out whatever was needed for the services.
Easter was the busiest time and for over a week before Easter, whole days
were spent in preparation. To make sure everything was correct, copious
notes were left in the vestry as to what was needed to be done and there
were also photographs to show how to layout items and everything was
labelled. John had an inventive mind, making gadgets that were used to ease
the various tasks. Another speciality of Johnís was the use of
and sticking plaster to repair and hold candles in place! (There is
also the story about the exploding "Holy Easter Bonfire".......)
addition John was a server of various ranks MC, SD, Crucifer, Acolyte,
Banner Bearer and Thurifer. For this last duty John had very useful tricks
for making the task of cleaning the thurible easier after use.
love of children was evident at the Christmas Fair when he was Father
To sum up
other aspects of John at All Hallows - John was one of those that made all
members of the congregation feel wanted by his quiet presence, he would chat
to all and invariably you would know where he was by the characteristic
chuckle. Children were given cuddles. At gatherings John would often stand
up to give appropriate comments. The Thursday coffee mornings were the
better for his stories and jokes. Finally the last contribution of John to
All Hallows was his photography; most events in the Church were recorded,
these will be a valuable record for the future, also the Easter Rites
Ceremonies were tape recorded,
All Hallows was the better for Johnís devotion and immense contributions.
There is a gap that cannot be filled.
Rest in peace
, you deserve it .
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