Tributes to church leader

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Dean of St Edmundsbury the Very Reverend Neil Collings, who died at his home on Saturday following a two-year battle with cancer.

His death was announced during a service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Sunday morning by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Right Reverend Nigel Stock.

He said: “Neil won the hearts of many people for his prayerful faith and keen sense of humour. Although he will be greatly missed his ministry will continue in this place and everywhere where he was admired and loved.”

Mr Collings, who served as Dean from 2006 to 2009, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2008 and was forced to retire within a year due to the affect on his health.

Despite undergoing surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and further treatment, the cancer returned in recent months.

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He died, aged 63, at his home in Devon where he had lived since January, close to his family including his father and brother.

Mr Collings became Dean of St Edmundsbury on September 16, 2006, having previously been Canon Treasurer at Exeter Cathedral.

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In a statement from St Edmundsbury Cathedral yesterday, a spokesman said: “Although Neil’s ministry at St Edmundsbury Cathedral was short, he brought to a conclusion the Millennium Project which has seen the cathedral building develop and grow over recent years.

“He was a man of great character, wit and wisdom who showed immense fortitude and spirit in the difficult months as he battled with illness.

“Neil became a priest in 1971 and his rich ministry had a profound influence on the many people he served in a variety of places and positions. In the two years that he was Dean of St Edmundsbury he managed to visit all 478 parish churches in the Diocese.”

The funeral will take place at Exeter Cathedral on Tuesday, July 6, at 11.30am People in Suffolk will be invited to gather in St Edmundsbury Cathedral at the same time if they wish to do so.

A memorial service will be held at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in due course.

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