Death of former vicar ‘who always saw best in people’

Canon Will Pratt and his wife Linda at his retirement party
Canon Will Pratt and his wife Linda at his retirement party

The widely-admired Canon Will Pratt, Vicar of St Mary the Virgin Church in Ringmer for 14 years, has died at the age of 70.

He served the parish from 2000 until his retirement and was described not only as a man of compassion and generosity but also a great raconteur with a vast fund of jokes and stories.

A friend from Oxford University days said: “To spend time with Will was always fun. His sense of humour was hearty, witty and generous.

“He always saw the best in people and in life.”

Canon Pratt saw his ministry as a vocation not a job and threw himself into village life when he and his wife Linda came to Ringmer.

He initiated a holiday club for children in the October half-term, was a member of St Mary’s Mothers’ Union and St Mary’s Men’s Club and served as a governor of Ringmer Primary School.

He also developed strong links with the then Ringmer Community College, served on the Village Hall Management Committee and was chaplain to two of the county’s High Sheriffs and to Glyndebourne.

In recognition of his Diocesan work, Canon Pratt and his wife were invited to attend two garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

Before arriving in Ringmer he served for many years as the Chichester Diocesan Press and Communications Officer, covering such events as The Grand Hotel bombing in Brighton and the murder of MP Ian Gow.

He was National Chaplain to the Nautical Training Corps and was made a Canon in 1990. His ministry was all in the Diocese of Chichester from 1972 and for more than 40 years was involved in overseas work, visiting Kenya several times.

Canon Pratt and his wife were married for more than 40 years and had two sons, Richard and Matthew. In the last two years he had the pleasure of conducting both their weddings to Kelli and Jasmine respectively and was thrilled to become grandfather to Isla Paige last May.

In retirement he enjoyed spending time with the family, travelling, walking, gardening, DIY, music – especially Wagner – and reading, particularly historical documentaries.

A member of and participant in services at St Peter and St Paul Church, Hellingly, he was sadly diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in January. He died peacefully surrounded by his family on Monday, March 19.

The funeral will take place at St Mary the Virgin, Ringmer, on Friday, April 6 at 1pm, followed by a private cremation. Family flowers only please. Donations, if wished, to St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Eastbourne, C/O Grace Independent Funeral Directors, 74 Springett Avenue, Ringmer, East Sussex, BN8 5QX.