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.