Tributes have been paid to the much-loved vicar of Holy Cross and Uckfield Rural Dean who died suddenly last Friday morning.
Canon Martin Onions was admitted to hospital on Thursday evening after a sudden heart attack but died the next day.
Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner said: “It is with profound sadness that we have announced Martin’s death. In the shock of this news our immediate thoughts and prayers are with Martin’s wife Gill, their family and the parish and people of Uckfield. After ordination in 1988 Martin served in the Diocese of Chichester. He is a well-known and much-loved figure in the Diocese. We give thanks for the vitality of his life and Christian witness, commending him to the God he served so faithfully. Martin, may you rest in peace and rise in glory.
“A book for recording thanks and remembrance of Martin’s life and ministry is open in Holy Cross for anyone who wishes to inscribe the book and pray for Martin and his family and all who mourn his death.”
Uckfield Chamber of Commerce vice president Chris Lawson said: “It was with huge sadness that we learnt of Canon Martin Onions’s death. In the two years Martin was with us he brought great fun and vigour not only to the church but to the Uckfield community and will be sorely missed. On behalf of everyone in the Uckfield Chamber I offer our sincere condolences to his wife Jill and all the family.”
Canon Onions joined the Uckfield ministry in 2013. Born in Bridgnorth, Shropshire in 1963 he lived in Shrewsbury and was educated at the Priory Grammar School. He had told the Express: “I didn’t relate to it terribly well so left school at 16. I joined the Kenning Motor Group and was apprenticed for four years, training to be an HGV mechanic. At 17 I had a particular experience of God’s grace which inspired me to explore what God was asking of me. At the same time a member of our congregation spoke to me about ordination. At the end of my apprenticeship I moved to Sussex, working in the parish of St Dunstan’s, Mayfield and earning money as a house parent at Chailey Heritage. This is when I met Gill, my wife.”
A candlelit vigil in his memory was held at the Victoria Pleasure Ground on Saturday. The church’s planned ‘fun evening’ was cancelled but the Pentecost Beacon was lit as planned.
Uckfield photographer Ron Hill said: “I remember the fun and laughter of very happy times over two years of photographing him at many Church and Uckfield town events, a better subject one could not have wished for.”