OBITUARY: Michael Swindlehurst (1929-2017)

Published Saffron Walden Historical Journal No 34 (2017)

Michael Robert Carol Swindlehurst was born on Christmas Day 1929. He went up to Oxford and read history at Worcester College, where he took his bachelor and master’s degrees in 1952 and 1956. After going down from Oxford he joined the Civil Service but he had long nourished the call of ordination. Michael trained for the ministry at Cuddesdon College, Oxford, during the days of Robert Runcie as Principal. He served his first curacy at Havant, Portsmouth, a leading training parish for those in the Catholic tradition. His second curacy was at Hellesdon, a large suburban parish lying on the north-west corner of Norwich. In 1969 Michael was instituted as Vicar of All Saints with St James Brightlingsea. There he remained until his retirement in 1995.

Brightlingsea is a coastal town situated between Colchester and Clacton-on-Sea at the mouth of the River Colne. In the latest census the town had a population of just over 8,000. Michael threw himself into all aspects of life in Brightlingsea and was given an award by the town council when he retired. He was much involved with the Mission to Seamen (now the Mission to Seafarers), and was Rural Dean of St Osyth in the Diocese of Chelmsford for ten years from 1984 to 1994. Michael was appointed an Honorary Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral in 1989.

Michael chose to retire to Saffron Walden where he lived a very active life in retirement. He exercised a regular ministry at St Mary’s Saffron Walden and in the neighbouring villages. There were few societies and charities in the town in which Michael was not involved. These included the Bible Society, the United Nations Association, the Museum Society. and many others. He played a large role in the Saffron Walden Historical Society, and was its chairman for some 16 years. At the Annual General Meeting of the Society in May, Michael was unanimously elected the Honorary Life President of the Society. 

Michael will be remembered as a caring and compassionate human being, as a wise and faithful pastor, and as a good and loving friend to all who were privileged to know him. We will miss him greatly.

Jeremy Collingwood

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