Tributes are paid to Reverend Duncan Rhodes from Diggle

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 02 October 2019

They came with music in their hearts to celebrate the life and times of a true man for the people.

Heads bowed, scores of mourners stood in respectful silence with deep affection to remember Rev Duncan Rhodes.

Born in Diggle, the charismatic 84-year old minister was ordained more than two decades ago as a non stipendiary CofE priest.

And as a tribute to his immense character and zest for life, his funeral was laced with joyous, stirring hymns and uplifted tunes spiralled upward bathing Saddleworth Parish Church in autumn sunlight. 

Diggle Band, which Duncan headed at the village’s annual Whit Friday walk with Kilngreen Church where he was a lifetime member, played Nimrod as Rev Canon Sharon Jones, the team rector, welcomed mourners.

Tributes to the hugely respected father of three were lead by Barrie Williams, a life long friend and local coroner, who reminded the congregation Duncan was a man of many parts:  Saddleworth in essence yet far from parochial.

“Hail Smiling Morn,” the classic hymn underpinning the community’s committed Whit Friday ethos, was carried on a vanguard of voices from the congregation and combined church choir and Saddleworth Musical Society, which Duncan had helped set up and became president in1980 until he died.

There was a bible reading from Rev Howard Sutcliffe, a touching homily  from Rev Hilary Edgerton at a service woven with a medley of organ, band, choral music and hymns: a rich tapestry and tribute to Duncan’s remarkable life.

Then, cocooned by Gabriel Faure’s In Paradisum, Duncan was taken for private committal at Oldham crematorium conducted by Rev Godfrey Adams, who was ordained with him.

It was indeed a smiling, touchingly memorable morn.

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