Family’s final farewell to former priest

LEGACY: The Rev David Woodwards , front left.
LEGACY: The Rev David Woodwards , front left.

The funeral of the Rev David Woodwards, former rural dean of Sudbury, has taken place at St Andrew’s Church, Belchamp St Paul.

Mr Woodwards, 77, who lived in Cricketers Close, Sudbury, died on April 19 after a short illness.

He leaves behind Cherry, his wife of 49 years, four children, Siobhan, Ruth, Suzie and Richard, and five grandchildren, Eilis, Darragh, Charlotte, Katie and Connor.

He had been vicar at Edwardstone and Groton churches in 1972, and also at Glemsford. Although retired as a priest, he was still called upon to help at church services.

His son Richard, who lives in Clermont Avenue, Sudbury, said: “He retired to Sudbury, a place always close to his heart, having been rural dean for 12 years from 1976.

“He still carried out services once a month at various parishes until just a few months ago. His death was quite a shock.”

Mr Woodwards said his father’s legacy was founding the Royal Theological Association, which is still going today, from a restored Georgian farmhouse in Groton which later burned down.

“Groton House was used to prepare people for life as a country parson,” he said.

“It was used as a retreat for others and was the birthplace of the Royal Theological Association. He left a legacy there.”

He said his father held strong, traditionalist views which resulted in him resigning from the Church of England over the ordination of women priests.

“He wasn’t against women, he just didn’t believe it could work for lots of reasons,” he added.

Born in Witham, Essex, Mr Woodwards met his future wife at theological college and the couple went to Nigeria where Mrs Woodward become a missionary. His funeral took place on Friday.