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Memorial for 'sporting vicar' who collapsed while preaching

8th February 2022
Liz Coates reports

A memorial service is being held for Rev Tony Clemens whose legacy lives on in Gorleston - Credit: supplied by Peter Cresswell

A memorial service is being staged in tribute to a town vicar who was also an able seaman in the Navy, an intelligence officer, and a football referee
The Reverend Anthony Clemens was a respected and much loved vicar of Gorleston for ten years until 1976
His sudden death in Northgate Hospital in 1976, aged 55, a week after he collapsed while preaching, was front page news locally triggering an outpouring of grief and sadness and a flurry of letters to this newspaper hailing his jovial nature and enthusiasm


St Andrew's Church, Gorleston (photo: James Bass) - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

He was buried in the Magdalen Cemetery at Oriel Avenue, Gorleston
Now a refurbished headstone has been placed there, and, at the initiative of his son Adam a teenager at the time of his father's death, a memorial ceremony will take place at the cemetery on Wednesday, March 9 at 12pm
Rev Clemens was a founder of Gorleston Rotary Club and a chairman of Gorleston Football Club for three years
He also stood as a conservative candidate for the St Andrews Ward in 1973
His varied life spanned being an able seaman in the Navy and an intelligence officer in the  Far East before training at Oak Hill Theological College and being ordained in 1951
He came to Gorleston in 1966, taking over from Canon Ernest Corbell, vicar for 22 years
By all accounts he threw himself into local life visiting almost every household in his first few months as well as conducting services at factories
It was also said he rushed between weddings and home games on Saturdays
Under his inspiration and leadership the Chapter House, adjoining St Andrews Church,  was built widening the appeal and reach of the church to take in the wider community
The new building also lead to the creation of the St Andrews Festival of Music and the Arts - a huge event in the town's cultural calendar for many years
Peter Cresswell, former deputy manager at Wellington Pier, said he was a "larger than life" character who everyone knew
"Here I am in my 70s and out of the many people I have met he is up there with the tops" he said
Anyone wanting to attend the ceremony can contact Peter Cresswell on 01638 661138 or 07960 733420 for further details

this article also appeared on Great Yarmouth Mercury website



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