Friends of St Mary's Winkfield
Registered Charity 1162342
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Mary Knight died peacefully at about lunchtime when a nurse was in attendance at her home. Her mind was clear, and she was very much the Mary that we have known, despite the continuous pain and agony that her cancer inflicted. She bore her suffering with stoicism, since hers was a life, supporting the Parish and many other causes, with a deep Christian faith at its centre, in which no moment was wasted, even at the end. Truly an inspiration to us all.
"Mary, thank you for all your service to the village and church." "An inspiration to us for so long." "Thank you for all that you have done for St Martin’s." "Thank you Mary for all your help and prayers." "Thank you for everything. You will be greatly missed." "You have been such a blessing to us, Mary, for which we are so thankful!"
On 31st July 2019 Mary officially stood down from her role as a Licensed Lay Minister, after more than 30 years of service, and Bishop Steven of Oxford personally gave her the honorary title of LLM Emeritus. Her friends at St Martin’s prepared a card and a gift for her, and the quotes above come from that. They wanted to give it to her in a church service; sadly this was not possible as Mary wasn’t able to get to church again. However, they reflect the love and esteem in which Mary was held, not only at St Martin’s but throughout the Benefice and all over the local area.
I only knew Mary for the last few years of her life, so there is much I don’t know about her. She was a scholar, having got a First in Theology at university; a teacher, and Deputy Head for many years at Heathfield School; a singer, who met her husband, Geoffrey, at a choir practice; a devoted mother and grandmother; a tireless worker and a woman of deep faith. In recent months her failing health has meant that she hasn’t been able to do as much as she used to (which frustrated her enormously) and others have had to step in to cover these areas. My suspicion is that, in the weeks ahead, we will discover even more jobs that Mary quietly got on with, without making any fuss.
Underlying all her activity Mary was a woman of prayer. She kept the prayer life of the church going through three interregnums (the gaps between one Vicar and the next), and was an inspiring, and scholarly, preacher. Shortly before I began my present role I had a moment of deep uncertainty, when I felt I simply wasn’t up to the job. Mary reminded me that the 'one thing needful' is to listen to God, and then try to live out what he is saying; this gave me the reassurance to go ahead. As well as the card, and gift, I had prepared a medal that I wanted to award to her. On one side it said, 'Mary Knight MBE', and on the other 'Mary – Best Ever'.
Mary died peacefully at home, after living with cancer for more than three years. She was never one to complain, but it was clear she was frustrated by the way her body was letting her down, and giving her pain. Those limitations are now over for her, and I feel confident that the one she served for so long is now saying to her: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"
This article will also be published in the October 2019 parish magazine
In our sadness at Mary's death, we especially remember her family, and send them our deepest sympathy at their loss. Mary's funeral will take place at 12 noon in St Mary's Church on Monday 30 September.
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