In memory of Reverend Don Sparkes

Don walking his goat
Don walking his goat

In Memory of Reverend Don Sparkes

Story: David Smith

Tuesday 18th May was a sad day for many as it saw the funeral of Don Sparkes at Christ Church. It was also a day of thanksgiving as we remembered all that Don had done during his thirty-three years here. Canon Keith Farrow who took the service rightly described Don as a ‘Pitsmoor legend’. And yet it was a miracle that Don ever entered the ministry.

He had relatively little formal education, and when the call to become a priest came he had to being amassing ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels before he could be accepted for ordination training.

He came to Pitsmoor in 1964 having served as a curate in Southall, London. Initially he was priest-in-charge but seeing the quality of his work his parishioners soon demanded that he become the fully fledged Vicar of the parish. Don was a man of deep convictions: the Cross and Resurrection of Christ were his chief inspiration, both for preaching the gospel of God's grace and as stimulus for service to others.

His influence on church and parish was far-reaching. Services were transformed: Holy communion at 9.30am was well attended and was followed by a familyfriendly 11am outreach service, which attracted many on the fringes of church life. Youth work was a priority, with a boys' choir bursting at the seams and a thriving youth group soon to follow.

The old church hall was plainly inadequate for these developments and Don oversaw the building of the present ‘Welcome Centre’ in 1985. Evensong on Sunday became a healing service which often turned out to be the best attended service of the day. A monthly ‘renewal’ meeting on Saturdays drew a huge crowd of worshippers from far afield as well as the parish. Don saw himself as a servant of the parish as a whole, and was always keen to work with the community. For some 6 years he was a city councillor; he established a well-attended lunch club that met twice weekly in the church hall, and fought successfully for the building of Pye Bank Trinity Junior School in the Southern part of the parish. He edited and produced ‘Contact’ magazine as a link between parish church and people, and established a readership of some 5000.

In all this activity Don was blessed with the help of his wife Sheila, and with an exceptionally happy and lively family of four children. After Sheila's tragic death 1990 Don married Iris, and in retirement moved to the parish of King's Sterndale in Buxton where, as Canon Farrow put it “He kept going full pelt to the end.”

Photo caption: Don will be remembered by many for walking his goat around the area.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Graham Jones on 2015-05-25 11:20:59.
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