Jane Redfearn has kindly supplied the following words of tribute to her father, the Revd David Hughes...

David Hughes was born at Banstead, Surrey, where his father founded and ran a private school. David was a sickly child and remembered being sent to recuperate from whooping cough to Tenerife on an Olsen cargo steamer, together with a boy whose parents lived on the Island and a governess. Happily, the governess took to her cabin with sea sickness and the boys had a lovely time entertained by the crew. David gained a love of the sea on that voyage, which later influenced his decision to go into the Navy.

His father had moved Rose Hill School to Alderley in Gloucestershire just before the outbreak of war, so David’s school holidays were spent there. He had an enthusiasm for trains and spent much time in the local signal box mastering Morse code, even being allowed to send the signals for changing points and announcing trains. The box further down the line always knew when Master David was on the line by the deftness of touch.

David was at Rugby School at the same time as John Gillespie Magee, the war poet buried in Scopwick War Graves, and, indeed, his elder brother was in the same class and corresponded with John during the early part of the war. When he was old enough, David left Rugby School to join the Navy, serving on Merchant protection runs in the Solent on the Mignonette, a Flower-class corvette, before being transferred for duty in the underground munitions store at Corsham, near Bath. When he left there, he was replaced by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Entering Trinity College, he took an interest in hockey and organised a post-war hockey tour to Bayeux, where, to his surprise, he was feted as the younger brother of the officer of the battalion which recaptured Bayeux but died in the assault. After Trinity he joined his father’s school as a teacher and there met and married Anne Vere Whitehead in 1950, who had recently joined the staff as a school cook, and their first daughter, Jane, was born there. Like many sons, he wanted to be more independent of his father, so he left to take a position as a teacher at Abberley Prep School and a second daughter, Sally, arrived. Two years later he was appointed as Northfields housemaster at Stamford School, where he stayed for more than 25 years. Rachel was born at Northfields and he often joked that he had a family of three girls and 36 boys. While at Stamford he taught English and French, coached rugger and hockey, ran the local Scout troop, becoming District Commissioner, and also inaugurated the School’s Naval Combined Cadet Force section.

As a member of a family who were generally either teachers, lawyers or clergymen, David felt a calling to the Church. He trained at Lincoln Theological College in 1974, serving his curacy at St Botolph’s Boston, with a special responsibility for St Christopher’s (1976–1978), and then as Rector of Graffoe (1978–1990). David’s mentors were his uncle and godfather, the Reverend Geoffrey Raven of Lyddington near Oakham and the Bishop of Grantham, Tony Otter. On retirement in 1990, David and Anne moved to Ruskington and adopted the friendly congregation of Bloxholm as their home church. They much enjoyed their extended family of six grandchildren and more recently three great grandchildren. As a retirement project, in 2003/2004 David adapted some of his sermons into two books of Homespun Homilies, as a daily reflection during Lent and Advent.

His beloved Anne died in 2008, but the strength of their bond left him with the continued sense of her presence. Although not able to get about more recently, he puffed away at his pipe and extolled the virtues of The Repair Shop (the BBC One television programme) and other topical interests. He died peacefully in his sleep at home on 23rd June 2020. David was one of those people whose God was a cheerful being with a sense of humour, as was David. He always said it was better to be content than merely happy.

David Anthony Hughes
22nd August 1925 – 23rd June 2020

These words of tribute have been amalgamated and adapted from Owen Davies’ tribute published in the Digby Group newsletter, background on the back of the two books of homilies, family knowledge and Crockford’s Clerical Directory. The photograph was kindly supplied by David's family.

This article was originally published on Monday, 10th August 2020.