Farewell to Canon Ron Greenall, cleric, columnist and proud Prestonian

Canon Ron Greenall has died at the age of 80. Fiona Finch looks back on his long life of service to the church and community and his record breaking 30 years of Reverent Reflections.

By Fiona Finch
Monday, 6th September 2021, 4:58 pm
Canon Ron Greenall receiving Maundy money from HR Queen Elizabeth II at Blackburn Cathedral
Canon Ron Greenall receiving Maundy money from HR Queen Elizabeth II at Blackburn Cathedral

Hundreds of tributes have been posted online following the sudden death of a much loved Lancashire clergyman, columnist and writer.

Canon Ron Greenall died in the Royal Preston Hospital last Thursday.

He had been admitted to hospital after becoming unwell at his Catterall home some days earlier.

Canon Ron Greenall pictured at his home in Catterall

Canon Ron, 80, had continued to take church services up to his death, leading a twice monthly Wednesday service at St Helen’s, Churchtown where he was the Hon. Retired Priest in Residence.

He had also continued throughout his “retirement” years to write his much loved Reverent Reflections column for the Post, Garstang Courier and sister titles.

Such was his standing in the local community that as a mark of tribute the flag is being flown at half mast at Catterall village hall.

Earlier in the year Canon Ron contracted Covid-19 and had been treated in the intensive care unit at the Royal Preston Hospital before returning home to convalesce.

The newly ordained Rev. Ron pictured on his ordination day, May 24, 1964

Announcing news of the cleric’s death local Funeral Director Greg Hodgkinson paid his own tribute saying: “Ron was a very well known, loved and respected member of Garstang and was proud to serve as vicar and Rural Area Dean for many years.”

In a varied church career the always proud Prestonian had served in Adlington, Ribbleton, Coppull and Garstang.

He was curate at St Paul’s Church, Adlington and then spent two and a half years in charge of St Anne’s Church Centre in Moor Nook, Ribbleton, before serving as vicar at Coppull for 15 years.

In 1984 he was appointed to St Thomas’s in Garstang, retiring in 1999. But Canon Ron did not know the meaning of the word retirement, continuing to help out and take services, wherever the need arose locally.

Canon Ron gives a harvest blessing at a service attended by Bilsborrow Young Farmers

The cleric, who trained at theological colleges in Durham and Liverpool, was ordained in 1964.

A keen local history enthusiast he used his talents to write his column for the Garstang Courier for a record 30 years. He was also the author of ‘Garstang In Times Past’. In recent years the column, with its unique style and range of subject, was extended to appear in the Lancashire Post and other titles. Canon Ron regularly recalled memories of his Preston childhood in his Reverent Reflections.

Educated at St Thomas’s school, Moor Park Methodist School and the Harris Technical School he was brought up on Victoria Street and worked in the office of Preston Corporation’s transport department, studying for his O’ and A’ levels at night school.

He earned the title Cooking Canon after taking part in numerous fundraisers where he donned a chef’s apron to prepare meals for paying guests. His love of model railways saw him sharing that passion too with a model railway set up at the annual festival at St Helen’s.

Canon Ron was a model railway enthusiast

One of Canon Ron’s proudest moments was when he was chosen to receive Maundy money from HM Queen Elizabeth II at Blackburn Cathedral.

As a founder trustee of the local Bowland Village Trust charity, which helps those with physical and/or emotional conditions he was delighted to see it grow to provide accommodation and support for 26 residents in eight homes in Garstang and district.

Since late summer 2019 he had been Honorary Coordinator of Ministry at St Anne’s, Woodplumpton, taking regular services. But he had to step back from that role after contracting Covid-19 in January.

He and wife Beryl had been married for 57 years.The couple met when they were both members of St Thomas’s church in Preston. Beryl said: “I’ve known him all my life...:We were in the same church in Preston, St Thomas's. His mother was my Sunday school teacher and he lived nearby. We ended up running the church youth club together.We were very involved in the church - that’s really how we came to get together .”

Canon Ron leaves wife Beryl, daughter Allison, son-in-law Aled, grandchildren Catrin and Sarah, his sister Beryl and nephews and nieces.Allison said: "He was a parish priest through and through.”

The Diocesan Bishop for The Church of England in Lancashire the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said: "Canon Ron dedicated his entire ministry to this diocese...Even after retirement Ron remained a faithful servant, providing valuable support to parishes in the area by continuing to lead services and much more. Notably, for 30 years plus Ron was also a popular newspaper columnist of ‘the old style’ with his 'Reverent Reflections' where he found a fresh audience writing on his experiences and continuing to share his faith in this unique way. We thank God for Ron’s many years of service and hold all of his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers at this time."

The funeral will be held at St Helen’s, Churchtown, near Garstang,at a date to be announced.