Church of England's first woman vicar mourned

PUBLISHED: 14:00 16 September 2012

Heather Williams

Heather Williams

Archant

A WOMAN from Weston who became the first female vicar in the Church of England and was instrumental in growing the church in the town has died.

Weston Football Club held a minute’s silence for Heather Williams during their match against Sutton United on Saturday after she died of a brain tumour in Weston Hospice on September 4 aged 69.

Mrs Williams had been a chaplain at the football club and she also helped get the For All Healthy Living Centre built on the Bournville estate, spending a decade as a vicar at St Andrew’s Church in the centre on Lonsdale Avenue.

She grew up in Weston and had been living in the town for the past 23 years after moving back in 1989, first serving as team vicar in Worle.

In 2002 her contribution to churches both in Weston and nationwide was recognised when she became a Prebendiary of Wells Cathedral.

Mrs Williams had three children with her husband Bryan as well as four grandchildren.

Son Paul Williams, Bishop of Kensington, said: “Heather’s enthusiasm, faith and the down to earth way she cared for people means she will be greatly missed. As a vicar my mother understood her ministry as being there to support and encourage people whether or not they went to church.

“Her vision for establishing the For All Healthy Living Centre on the Bournville estate was a very tangible expression of how she approached so many things – church and faith at the centre of the community and open to all.

“These past few years mum has loved serving as chaplain to the football club, particularly being there to support and encourage the staff and young players.

“As a family we were very touched to hear that the club had offered their own tribute to mum at the game on Saturday.

“We are so proud of all that Heather achieved.

“Her love for God inspired her love for people and as a result she brought hope and help to so many.

“We are very sad she has gone but her legacy of faith and love will long be remembered.”

A funeral was held at St John’s Church in Lower Church Road at 2pm on Friday.

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