Much-loved church leader dies after fall

Rev Peter Garland
Rev Peter Garland
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Church leaders have reacted with shock and sadness to the sudden death of Rev Peter Garland, vicar of St John the Baptist Church, Spalding.

Mr Garland is thought to have suffered a head injury after a fall at his home in Hawthorn Bank, Spalding, from where he was rushed to Peterborough City Hospital.

Doctors then transferred Mr Garland to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, to be operated on, but he died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Mr Garland, who was also vicar of Deeping St Nicholas Parish Church and a chaplain at Johnson Community Hospital, Pinchbeck. leaves his wife Frances and three sons.

Rev Mike Chesher, vicar of St Paul’s Church, Spalding, and St Mary’s Church, Weston, said: “It’s a great shock to me because Peter was tireless in running a big and growing parish, as well as in his work at Johnson Community Hospital.

“Peter just worked his socks off and he absolutely gave his life to the church, but also had an awful lot of respect for people and had his fingers in so many pies.

“It’s such a tragic thing to happen to someone who was a good man and it’s awful for Frances and his family as well.”

Mr Garland, originally from Merseyside, originally trained to be a teacher until his father’s sudden death in 1985 after which he decided to enter the Anglican priesthood.

In an article for the Guardian last July, Mr Garland said: “My dad was a vicar and the first time I was ‘up front’ in church was when my sister Jenny got married and I gave her away as my dad was taking the service.

“I decided against a life teaching Latin to reluctant learners and when my father died suddenly, I became very involved in the local church and found it a better way of serving the community.

“It is great meeting so many people who don’t go to church, but want to explore their faith.”

As well as his work at St John’s and in Deeping St Nicholas, Mr Garland was a leading figure in Churches Together in Spalding and District (CTSD), having organised the Lent Lectures before Easter.

Rev Ian Walters, vicar of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Gosberton, said: “I was with Peter at a CTSD service on Sunday when I felt a deep respect and love for Peter.

“I will deeply miss him as a colleague, a dear friend, a man with a deep love for other people, his sense of humour and as someone who was always open to listening to others.”