5:37pm Saturday 31st March 2012
© Press Association 2013
Hundreds of people have said a final goodbye to a murdered clergyman in the church where he was installed as priest just a few months ago.
Nearly 500 people filled St Mary's Church in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, to pay their respects to the 59-year-old Reverend John Suddards.
Among the mourners were Mr Suddards's sister Hilary Bosworth, her husband Phil, and their children Hannah, Vicky and Simon. Other people who joined the service, which was led by The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Rev Michael Perham, included the Bishop of Colchester and clergy and friends from Mr Suddards's former parish in Witham, Essex.
Workmen found Mr Suddards stabbed to death in the hallway of the vicarage on Valentine's Day. The news of his death sent shockwaves through the clergy and the close-knit community in Thornbury, about 11 miles north of Bristol, where he was only installed as parish priest last July.
During the service, Mr Bosworth read a tribute to his brother-in-law that was written by his wife. "As John's family we have great memories of John," he told mourners. Just last Christmas Day he was very happy to sit with a large glass of red wine having enjoyed a good dinner and chuckling at Absolutely Fabulous on TV.
"His visits to us in Dorset were always a 'getaway from it all' time and he enjoyed walking the dog on the beach or taking Hilary and the children on tours of the countryside with a pub lunch on the way.
"Frequently these trips would happen to deviate by an interesting old church or priory and much to the children's pleasure often ended with an ice cream and some sweets."
Mr Bosworth added: "Uncle John was great fun and much loved by Hannah, Vicky and Simon. He was fascinated to watch our children growing into adulthood and always wanted to know their plans and career moves.
"He was especially looking forward to marrying Hannah and John at their wedding in Dorset in September. It seemed right that his funeral should be here at St Mary's at this beautiful church, of which John was so proud, and for which he had such great plans."
Stephen Farrow, 47, has been charged with the murder of Mr Suddards and also that of retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, in Bewdley, Worcestershire. Farrow was arrested on February 19 in Folkestone, Kent, following a tip-off from the public after police launched a nationwide manhunt.
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