Clare Dyson remembered

Published: Tuesday July 11, 2023

The Revd Richard Coombs, Rector of Cheltenham, fondly remembers the life and ministry of a much-valued colleague and friend, the Revd Clare Dyson, who died on 9 July.

“The Revd Clare Dyson was the Associate Vicar at St Matthew’s and the Minster in Cheltenham for eight years until early this year when she was appointed to her ‘dream post’ of Warden of Marygate Retreat House on Lindisfarne Island. Soon after her appointment she was diagnosed with cancer and died on 9 July.

“Clare had responsibility for the Minster soon after it had been saved from closure and did much to revive its life and worship. She opened the Minster up to the wider community with ‘Experiencing Easter’ and ‘Experiencing Advent’ events, she created prayer stations around the building and made the prayer chapel a place for quiet prayer. She developed the services to make them more contemporary, introduced a new hymn book and service book and published a new visitor guide. She was also instrumental in developing ‘Minster Merriment’ as a major Christmas outreach event in Cheltenham town centre and her input to the redesign of the Minister Churchyard is one of her lasting legacies.

“Clare brought the care and compassion combined with the practical support of her previous career as a midwife to her ministry of pastoral care. The development of CAMEO (Come And Meet Each Other) for older members of the church and community was a highlight of her ministry. Her ubiquitous wicker basket was always full of gifts or meals for people that she was about to visit. She didn’t regard anything as beneath her and was more than happy to get her hands dirty: cleaning someone’s home, making meals, babysitting, dog sitting, washing up, or gardening. But her ministry of practical support was always accompanied by prayer and a spiritual presence which was never forced but was at the heart of who Clare was and how she ministered. One elderly woman was virtually unconscious and not responding to anyone, but when Clare arrived with communion suddenly she revived and started responding to her. Just recently, someone who Clare ministered to when her mother died has come to faith on an Alpha course, another lasting legacy.

“During lockdown, Clare produced a regular online service of Morning Prayer which gave great comfort and spiritual sustenance to many during those long weeks. She also ensured that every person in the church had someone else who was caring for them pastorally. And, when we were allowed out, she was brilliantly creative in streaming services from the Minster and getting boxes of goodies to all the CAMEO members at harvest, Easter and Christmas. She also cared for us, the members of the ministry team, when we were struggling as we all did from time to time during those days.

“We were deeply shocked to hear of her cancer diagnosis and even more so by her rapid decline and our hearts go out to her husband, Alex, and her two sons, Thomas and Robert, and their partners. We are grieving deeply but ‘not like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again’ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).”


7 thoughts on “Clare Dyson remembered

  1. Clare has been an inspiration to me since I have known her , she and Alex were so kind to me when I went through a difficult time and she and I became great friends often sharing a pot of tea and playing a favourite game like Quirkle or Canasta which she more often than not won! We shared many happy times in my summerhouse enjoying each others company and having a ‘ proper’ tray of tea from a teapot , cups and saucers, and some nice cake .I now have a special teacup and saucer with Clares name on it permanently in my summerhouse so she is always there for tea with me, and I always use the teacosy she kindly knitted for me . I miss Clare and I am so glad I met her ……sleep gently Clare xx

  2. I am so sad to hear that we have lost Clare. She was beyond wonderful. Rest in peace Clare 🙏💕

  3. Clare was a huge comfort to me when my husband died. Her mix of prayerful compassion and practicality were an amazing support, as were long chats as we explored the Gloucestershire countryside with her dogs. Her enduring care for those in our churches, and visitors to them, will be greatly missed. I look forward to meeting you again, Clare, in heaven.

  4. It was a pleasure and a privilege to serve regularly as a Reader alongside Clare. She brought generosity, joy, and compassion to everything she did. She will be missed hugely.

  5. I am sure Clare’s legacy will inspire those of us who knew her well to continue to do things in her wake with great commitment and in respect of the true faith and love she had not only in God but in her own family her friends and congregation.
    I am indebted to you dear Clare and Alex and family and will remember your kindness for all my life.
    Gods peace and love to you

  6. Clare was such a support to myself and my family, always willing to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a willing cook and companion when I was at my lowest. I will forever be grateful for Clare’s love and support though that time. We would not be where we are now without Clare x

  7. Very sorry to hear that Clare has passed away. Thoughts and prayers to Alex and the rest of her family. Her time in the Cagebrook Group of parishes, remembered with thanks. God Bless.

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