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Gaywood clergyman dies shortly before his 105th birthday

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A long-serving clergyman, said to be an “inspiration” to church-goers over the decades across West Norfolk has died a few weeks short of his 105th birthday, writes Richard Parr.

Methodist minister, the Rev John Garfoot, pictured, whose active service and voluntary ministry in retirement, spanned more than 70 years, became nationally known through his regular articles published in The Methodist Recorder newspaper.

Due to Covid restrictions only family members gathered for his funeral at St Faith’s Church Gaywood, the same church where almost five years previously he celebrated his centenary at a special service.

Retired Rev John Garfoot celebrating his 102nd birthday on Friday 15th June 2018. (48325175)
Retired Rev John Garfoot celebrating his 102nd birthday on Friday 15th June 2018. (48325175)

In John’s later years he lived with his son Adrian in Gaywood, travelling on his mobility scooter each Sunday to attend morning service. He always had a cheerful smile and a twinkle in his eye. During the days of lockdown John’s health gradually declined and he died whilst a resident at Lower Farm Nursing Home in South Wootton.

In his tribute at the funeral, the Rev Andrew Maguire, retired Methodist minister, said Rev Garfoot showed a real sense of joy, both in his faith and in being with people. “John had a real heart for rural Methodism.

"He faithfully ministered among his East Anglian communities as a caring pastor and expository preacher.”

"In addition, Rev Maguire told mourners that we could all be inspired by the Rev Garfoot’s deep faith in Christ, his energy, his generous Catholic spirit, his commitment to sharing the Gospel and his delight in the way in which glimpses of God can be found in everyday human life”.

St Faiths Church members, unable to attend the service because of Covid restrictions, stood along Gayton Road to pay their respects as Rev Garfoot’s funeral cortege travelled from the church to Mintlyn Crematorium for the final part of the service.

Before training for the Ministry, John served in the Royal Army Service Corps during World War Two for nearly five years. It somehow seems apt that he passed away on VE day. The Rev John Garfoot’s life was one dedicated to service, his country, his fellow man and God.

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