Tributes have been paid following the death of an ‘impressive priest and artist’.

Revd Canon Stephen Batty, the former Rector of the Bride Valley Benefice, which is centred on Burton Bradstock, has died after battling motor neurone disease

The Bishop of Salisbury The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam has since written to the licensed clergy in the diocese informing them of Revd Canon Stephen Batty’s death whilst paying tribute to his life.

The letter says: “I have to inform you that the Revd Canon Stephen Batty, Rector of the Bride Valley, died on Sunday morning, Trinity Sunday. Stephen served the whole of nearly 30 years ordained ministry in the Diocese of Salisbury. Soon after moving from Branksome to Burton Bradstock he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He continued to exercise an astonishing ministry. In Lent he determined to come for the last time to the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday with its renewal of ordination vows.

“The manner of Stephen’s dying was at one with his life as a priest and artist. He was one of the most striking and impressive priests it has been my privilege to know. In many ways, particularly in these last months, Stephen’s ministry was enabled with a great deal of help from others, particularly his wife, Frances Hatch. Our loving thoughts and prayers are with her and their daughter Evie.”

Branksome St Aldhelm C of E Church has also paid tribute to the priest.

A post on their Facebook page on the Sunday of his death says: “It is with enormous sadness that we have to pass on the news that our friend Revd Canon Stephen Batty passed away this morning.

“All our love and prayers to Frances and Evie and his wider family at this sad time.”

The funeral of Revd Batty will be at Sherborne Abbey tomorrow, Friday June 8 at 2pm followed by a private family interment at The Higher Ground Meadow.