Canon David Redwood obituary

Other lives: Priest in the Scottish Episcopal church for almost 60 years

My father, David Redwood, who has died aged 87, was a priest in the Scottish Episcopal church for almost 60 years. He had a strong belief in social justice, driven by a motive “to do some good with my life”. This included working as a “slum priest” in the east end of Glasgow, opening a branch of the Samaritans and becoming a social worker.

Born in Manchester, David was the son of Eric Redwood, an insurance clerk, and Eva (nee Dixon), a primary school teacher; a younger sister, Janet, predeceased him. He was brought up in West Timperley, near Altrincham, during the second world war, witnessing the Manchester blitz and attending Sale high school for boys and Manchester grammar school.

Leaving school at 17, he worked in advertising in Manchester for seven years, with two years national service in the RAF flying in Lancasters as a rear gunner, radar and wireless operator. He moved to Scotland in 1956 after meeting Sheila Clark, a radiographer and later a teacher, at a wedding in Glasgow. They married in 1959 and had three sons.

My father was called to the ministry and trained at Edinburgh Theological College. He was ordained deacon in 1959 and priest in 1960, and his first parish was Holy Trinity Episcopal church in Stirling.

He then moved to Christ Church in Bridgeton, Glasgow, as senior curate, where he was also the warden of the Mile End Social Centre, set up by the community worker Lilias Graham. He was later a trustee of Braendam House in Stirlingshire, her home, now the Lilias Graham Trust, providing holidays and respite for Glasgow families.

From 1964, he was rector at the Church of the Ascension in Mosspark, Glasgow, then from 1969 he was at St Mary’s Episcopal church in Hamilton, where he set up a branch of the Samaritans, and from 1974 at St Andrew’s Episcopal church in Callander, St Angus’ in Lochearnhead and St Fillan’s in Killin. In 1978 he obtained a social work diploma at the University of Glasgow, and worked as a social worker in Alloa; our family moved to Dunblane in 1981.

In 1985 he returned to the ministry full time as rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal church in Dunfermline. He led the West Fife team ministry, and also became the Episcopal church’s expert on penal matters, serving on the review committee for Glenochil prison and as convener of the Joint Prison Chaplaincy board. He retired in 1997, moving back to Dunblane, where he continued as a non-stipendiary priest into his 80s. He was made a canon of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth in 1990.

My father had a love of the natural world, a core of his religious impulse. In retirement, he studied for a degree in geology at the Open University and became leader of the Forth Valley group of the RSPB.

The last three years of his life were marred by vascular dementia. He is survived by Sheila, his sons, Michael, John and me, and grandchildren, Lucy, Tom, Caitie and Sarah.

Stewart Redwood

The GuardianTramp

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