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Canon Gray remembered

Barwicker No. 26
June 1992

Following the article in 'The Barwicker' No. 24, written by the niece of Canon Gray, Irene Vernon, I should like to odd to this my memories of the Rector who was in Barwick from 1942 until 1958. We always found him a most likeable character and everyone we met gave him such compliments and it was a pleasure and a benefit to all who came within his sphere of influence.

I remember, quite clearly, in November 1955 during the last illness of my father, Mr J. Rainbow of Park House Farm, seeing Canon Gray coming on his bicycle to visit and what a pleasure it was, and an uplifting surprise at the encounter. It was an overwhelming and most pleasing meeting and a great joy for my father in his last days with us. This occasion was really a 'bolt from the blue' and a great comfort to us all as Father passed away on 15 November 1955.

At Whitkirk Rural Dean Conference, on one of the many meetings held in the Church Institute, Leeds, the Rural Dean, Canon Gray presided and was accompanied by the Secretary, Cdr. W. Dickson. An address on 'The Church's Ministry of Healing' was given by Mrs Holliday. During a discussion, Canon Gray told how he had had a spiritual experience whilst conducting a healing mission in Northumberland. A girl suffering from cancer had been brought to the service and was prayed for, and during this time he had the remarkable experience of going rigid. He thought he was becoming too emotional and the sensation passed. However, later he discovered other people had undergone the same experience. Months after, he learned that this girl, who had been due to go to the Newcastle Royal Infirmary the day after the service for a major operation, had been carefully examined by doctors, and had been found to be cured. She was now healthy and happily married.

During Canon Gray's time in Barwick he worked unsparingly, and for years with the help of his parishioners he led a drive for the completion of the restoration of the church fabric. At least £2000 was raised for this purpose, which meant the interior as well as the exterior restoration could be completed. At one of the many garden fetes held in the rectory grounds, a record amount of £260 was realised. During the afternoon, pupils of Barwick-in-Elmet Church of England School gave a display of country dancing under the direction of the Headmaster Hr E D Holmes and Mrs Holmes. A gymnastic display was given by the pupils of Parl1ngton Secondary Kodern School under the direction of Hr Hart. Leeds Model Band played throughout the afternoon. Introducing the Rector in 1958, Hr G S Pullan, the rector's warden, said it would be the last fete for the then rector, as he was retiring that year. Mr E E Harrison thanked Canon Gray on behalf of the Church Council and workers. After the garden party, a concert was held in the day school. There were lots of stalls and many happy workers, which made it a most entertaining event plus a profitable one and altogether a lovely day.

Canon Gray and his parishioners had the satisfaction of knowing that through their efforts they had realised enough money to restore their lovely church. During this period he was looking forward towards having the work completed before he handed over to his successor. So through the work of the parishioners and the Rector himself with the various projects in hand, it was granted that this wish came true.

When the rector retired, he was presented with an inscribed gold watch and a radio set. He also received from his parishioners a cheque valued at ~102. Mr A Streets, acting churchwarden, and Mr. I P Attrill, churchwarden, made the presentation. He was one of our most likeable clerics and was sorely missed by all who had come under his beneficial influence during his 16 years in office.

I should add that Mrs Gray was a great helper at his side. We all felt a tremendous sympathy for the rector and his wife knowing of the awful tragedy and sadness in losing their beloved only son at the Battle of El-Alamein. However through their strong faith and their own suffering, they were able to accept life's struggles with splendid fortitude. Indeed, they were always ready to give a helping hand to others' needs and bring them comfort in their sorrow and hardships. Canon Gray was a gentleman and friend always to be remembered.


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