The Rt Rev’d Alan Smithson

About four years ago Bishop Alan and his wife Jean settled in nearby Musselburgh and came to St Mark’s.  Quickly they became a valued part of our little flock, quietly befriending people and helping where they could. Bishop Alan provided holiday cover for me, shared preaching and in Holy Week took part in all the services.  He worked well in small groups and I know that nobody found his presence at all intimidating.  What a fund of stories, quotes and anecdotes he held in his memory and I never failed to learn from him, although he never quite managed to convert me to his love of poetry.

Early on in his time at St Mark’s +Alan took over doing some of the home-communions and all very thrilled to be visited by a bishop, no less!  There are many housebound people who will miss his presence greatly.  We made a great team: every extrovert should have an introvert to balance them.

Shortly after they arrived I had the privilege of marrying one of his daughters while +Alan concentrated on being the father of the bride. And I know he loved playing with his grandchildren and always had time for them.

For the past wee while +Alan has not been well and he found it incredibly frustrating that he couldn’t help out more taking services. Despite constant reassurance that his presence and gift of listening and gentle advice was just as valuable, he always wanted to help more.

Yesterday +Alan died suddenly on the day he was going to go off on one of their annual camping holidays. It was a great shock to Jean, the family and all who knew him. I will miss his wise words and caring nature more than I can say.

May he rest in peace.


16 thoughts on “The Rt Rev’d Alan Smithson

  1. Dear Ruth,

    Alan’s daughter phoned a little while ago to let me know her father had died. I looked up your web site and was touched by how much you will miss him, he was a neigbour when I lived at St Ninian’s in Newton Stewart and I understand how much you will miss him, I still do. You have my deepest sympathy.


  2. Pingback: Bishop Alan Smithson « St Mark’s Portobello

  3. +Alan had a role in the training of the cohort of Glasgow and Galloway students with whom I studied. When he was living in Creetown, he would drive to Barrhill and take the train to Glasgow in time to be at our Ministries Reflection Group, then do the journey in reverse late at night. He directed the pre-ordination retreat which I shared with two other ordinands. Genial, kindly and patient is how I shall remember him. Your comment about ‘quiet befriending’ sums him up perfectly.

  4. Greetings Revd.Ruth,
    Bishop Alan, with Jean lived for many years at St. Crispin’s House in Creetown and through his ministry supported the Scottish Episcopal Churches of All Saints Challoch, St. John’s Stranraer, and St. Ninian’s Portpatrick for several years; also during an interregnum supported the Church of Scotland churches of Monnigaff and Kirkmabreck.
    For many year I had a close ministry and personal relationship with +Alan – he was my Hon.Assist.Curate.
    For those who feel that they cannot travel the journey to St. Mark’s Portabello on Wednesday 23rd. June for Bishop Smithson Funeral Service – Canon Nigel Newton (Rector of All Saints Challoch 1995 – 2005) will preside at a Eucharist Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Bishop Alan in St. John’s Episcopal Church Stranraer on that day at 11 a.m.

    Members of The Churches of Wigtownshire and of The Community will be most welcome to remember Bishop Alan as a minister of The Church and The Community wherever he lived and served.

    With my kind Regards,
    Yours sincerely in Christ,


    The Revd. Canon Nigel E H Newton,
    Interim Priest in Charge – St. John’s Stranraer
    Scottish Episcopal Church
    7 Wigtown Road,
    Newton Stewart.
    DG8 6JZ
    Phone: +44 (0) 1671 401 228
    Mobile: +44 (0) 7885 436 892

  5. Like Eamonn I have very fond memories of +Alan, having been part of the same Ministries Reflection Group and shared in the same pre-ordination retreat.
    His quiet care and concern for all of us, and his gentle humour, was an inspiration which I shall not forget.

  6. 21st June 2010
    I have heard today of Alan’s death and am very sad to hear it.
    He was my parish priest in Bracknell in Berkshire,many years ago.
    He was a great person, very supportive, and a good listener.
    My prayers go out to Jean and the family as they comes to terms with their breavement

  7. Dear Rev Ruth
    I have just learned of the death of Alan. It was a shock and a real blow.
    I met Alan and Jean at Carlisle Cathedral and it was Alan who steered our then chorister son Daniel through Confirmation. What a joy that was, often accompanied by Alan’s dog Shadow! Five years ago Alan and Jean were at Daniel and Kellie’s wedding in Carlisle Cathedral. He was so loved in Carlisle as were his family. You will feel his loss deeply. I will be for ever grateful that my path crossed that of Alan and his family and my family will always remember him.
    God Bless Ruth

  8. dear rev ruth

    alan married both my older brother and myself many years ago whilst he was our parish priest in bracknell,and was a much loved colleague and friend of my father the late rev Glyndwr phillips,at whose funeral alan kindly presided some 27 years ago.Alan`s kindness and gentleness were the most memorable of many extraordinary gifts,his ability to explain deep philosophical and moral issues with startling clarity being another!The enormous love,affection,respect and gratitude that was felt by all his congregation speaks volumes for his wonderful ministry and i and my family are truly grateful to have had our lives touched by both his and jean`s.please give her our love

    dylan and family

  9. I have only just found out about the sad passing of this wonderful and inspiring man.
    In my early days of faith Bishop Alan played quite a big part in the lives of the young people in the Durham Diocese. I will never forget our pilgrimage to Taize or the numerous events he took part in and enthusiastically encouraged.
    He truly was a man of faith and a gentle giant. I without a doubt am sure he is receiving his rewards in Heaven.
    May he rest in Peace x

  10. My sincere condolences to the Smithson family. I never met Rev. Smithson, but since we share our names, I always kept in touch with his news.

    God Bless.


  11. It was Alan who placed me in my first ministry – a curacy in the ex-steel town of Consett, Co Durham; and I was ordained priest by Alan in July 2000 at Durham Cathedral. While ascending the steps to the font at the beginning of the service, Alan walked up the inside of his cassock and tripped up, bashing the overhead mike with his crosier and almost toppling in!

    I thank God for his wisdom, quiet humour and kindness in all things.

  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, James.

    Btw, did you happen to know a good friend of mine, Pamela Lucas, who must have been ordained at about the same time as you and did her curacy at Easington?

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