Fond memories of a Spalding church leader who gave to his town

Rev Peter Garland (second right), associate minister Capt Paul Whiteley (right) and Archdeacon of Boston Dr Justine Allain Chapman with members of St John the Baptist Church, Spalding.
Rev Peter Garland (second right), associate minister Capt Paul Whiteley (right) and Archdeacon of Boston Dr Justine Allain Chapman with members of St John the Baptist Church, Spalding.
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Husband, father, school governor, hospital chaplain and church leader – just some of the things Rev Peter Garland fitted into his life of 62 years.

But Mr Garland, who passed away on Thursday after seriously injuring himself in a fall at his home in Spalding two days earlier, was also a youth club ambassador, rebuilding project leader, language student, theology graduate and, at one time, a college librarian in Surrey.

Rev Peter Garland (right) at the refurbished St John the Baptist Church, Spalding, with Lawrence Calkin, churchwardens Ray Wright and Margaret Smith looking after Kyla Hull at the font.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  Photo: SG180415-124TW.

Rev Peter Garland (right) at the refurbished St John the Baptist Church, Spalding, with Lawrence Calkin, churchwardens Ray Wright and Margaret Smith looking after Kyla Hull at the font. Photo by Tim Wilson. Photo: SG180415-124TW.

Such a wealth of experience and versatility means it is no surprise that an overflow and love and sadness has come from the formal announcement of Mr Garland’s death by the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson, also on Thursday.

The Bishop said: “It is immensely sad when someone who dedicates their life and talent to supporting their community so faithfully and energetically dies so suddenly.

“I was privileged to have been able to visit Peter in hospital, to anoint him and to pray with him and his family.

“My prayers will continue for the people of the churches Peter served, for the wider communities of Spalding and Deeping St Nicholas and, above all, for Frances and all of Peter’s family.”

Rev Peter Garland (third left) with the Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Venerable Tim Barker (front left), John Hayes MP and other church leaders at the 60th anniversary celebrations of Christians Together in Spalding and District.

Rev Peter Garland (third left) with the Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Venerable Tim Barker (front left), John Hayes MP and other church leaders at the 60th anniversary celebrations of Christians Together in Spalding and District.

Mr Garland, originally from Merseyside, trained as a teacher before choosing to take up theological training after the sudden death of his father, Deryck who was also a vicar, in 1985.

After his ordination and two posts near Aldershot, Mr Garland was appointed vicar of St John the Baptist Church, Spalding, and Deeping St Nicholas, in April 1999.

Associate minister Capt Paul Whiteley said: “I share with people from the community and beyond the real sense of shock, pain and loss that is being experienced with the sudden and unexpected passing of Peter from us.

“Peter served St John’s and Deeping St Nicholas parishes for the past 16 years when he was mindful of a number of factors.

Rev Peter Garland celebrates his Masters' degree in theology with the ex-Chancellor of Durham University, author Bill Bryson.

Rev Peter Garland celebrates his Masters' degree in theology with the ex-Chancellor of Durham University, author Bill Bryson.

“One of them was that the previous vicar, Rev Kenneth Almond, had worked to provide the church with updated facilities and so Peter wanted the church to be used for the wider community.

“Having recently been through the reordering and successful completion of work at St John’s, Peter’s vision was fulfilled.

“Peter worked tirelessly for the community and he had the ability to move between all age groups and backgrounds, taking a great interest in education as chairman of governors at both St John’s and Deeping St Nicholas Primary Schools.

“Many people have been sharing with me their own stories of how Peter was there in their moments of greatest joy and happiness, but also in their times of great pain and distress, especially in his role as chaplain for the Johnson Community Hospital.

“It is hard to comprehend the numerous personal and special ways that Peter has touched so many lives and, as churches, we were able to learn so much from him because of his energy, enthusiasm, intelligence and warmth – not forgetting his sense of humour.

“Many of us will have seen Peter in his role public role as priest.

“However, we mustn’t forget that Peter was also a husband, dad, grandad, brother and family member, so it’s hard to comprehend what his wife Frances and family are going through at this devastating time.”

Mr Garland was a leading figure in Churches Together in Spalding and District (CTSD) which celebrated its 60th anniversary in Spalding last October.

CTSD colleague and leader of South Holland Community Church, Pastor Kevin Taylor, said: “Peter was a very warm, kind, hard-working and witty man who was always ready with a smile, even when he was tired or seemingly overloaded.

“He will be greatly missed by everyone, particularly those of us at CTSD for which it was my privilege to work with him on what was, perhaps, his last service on the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday, May 24.”

But Mr Garland also served Deeping St Nicholas where he helped in starting a village youth club last July with support from Spalding Elloe county councillor Elizabeth Sneath.

“Peter’s kindness, good humour and deep, gentle, sincere faith made him a much-loved pillar of our community and he will be very sadly missed by so many, particularly his own close and loving family,” said Coun Sneath.