Tributes paid to 'rock and roll' vicar

TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved vicar who brought rock and roll to a Suffolk village.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved vicar who brought rock and roll to a Suffolk village.

The Rev Rex Bird was the youngest rector of Lavenham in the village's history and hit the headlines when he brought Sir Cliff Richard to visit.

The pop star was persuaded to come to Lavenham in May 1972 as part of Mr Bird's outreach work during a two-week Christian festival.

His daughter, Mary Bird, paid tribute to a “wonderful father” and a “true man of God”.

She said: “He was a charismatic speaker who was well known for his visual aids and props in church, like giant postage stamps or a giant pen.

“He was also a man with a real love for people who had a knack of making everybody feel welcome.

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“He was a wonderful father and I have so much to thank him for. He was always totally reliable and you knew he loved you.”

Mr Bird, who lived in Lavenham, died on April 5 aged 78. He began his working life as a brewer before finding his true vocation on his way back from a trip to east Africa.

And as well as becoming rector of Lavenham, Castle Hedingham and the benefice of Monks Eleigh, Chelsworth, Milden, Brent Eleigh and Kettlebaston - he was also Dean of Battle in East Sussex, vicar of Rainham in Essex and Vicar of Wellington in Shropshire.

Mr Bird and his wife Elizabeth were to have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on April 19, and had received personal letters of congratulations from HRH Prince Charles and The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister.

His funeral is being held today in Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford at noon.

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