A villager writes:-
It is with much sadness that we heard of the death of Reverend Fieldgate recently. John was the parish priest for many years before retiring to West Mersea in 2009, but he was so much more than that. A great supporter of the village school, John never talked down to the children, but treated them as he would anyone else – with honesty, compassion and gentleness. He also attended all village events he could from the Bygone Rallies to Horticultural shows – John was always there, doing what he termed “community priesting” – talking to people, getting involved and being part of village life. He was a rarity nowadays – a gentleman and a gentle man. A man of truth, love and gentle humour although his timekeeping was known to be not one of his greatest strengths. It was truly in his manner and tradition that he was even late for his own funeral, something I’m sure will not shock those that knew him.
As a vicar, John believed in family services, annual religious trips to Sizewell to join other congregations and that on Christmas Day morning itself, believed that your turkey always tasted better when you were at church instead of worrying about it. John was always ready to accept non-religious people, or those of different faiths and talk about sport, books (a favourite due to him being an ex-librarian) and nature. I personally had many conversations with him, on the summer evening walks he and wife Jill organised, and always came away enlightened, smiling or both, as did many people.
They say that you judge a man by his legacy, before his retirement and during it as well, John sowed the seed of a life choice change to one of the village’s most loved teachers, the seed grew and she was ordained a few years ago. I can’t think of a more fitting legacy to Rev. Fieldgate, than the Reverend Faith Mardsen.
(Rev. Fieldgate died on 4th May 2021 and is buried in East Mersea Churchyard).