Obituary of the Revd. Edward Wetherall
By Canon Leonard Doolan, Area Dean of Greece, and recently retired chaplain in Athens:
The Revd. Ted Wetherall, ‘Fr. Ted’, died in Tolo, in the Peloponnese, on 26 September 2023, just a few days after his 94th birthday. He was a priest to his core, and physical failings in the last few years of his life brought great frustrations. Just three weeks before he died he was admitted to hospital with a suspected Covid infection, but despite this he rallied.
Edward Cecil Wetherall was born in Thetford, Suffolk, and when he was ordained priest at the cathedral in Bury St. Edmunds. The lion’s share of his ministry was exercised in his beloved Suffolk, first in a curacy in Ipswich, then a very long stint as incumbent of Hitcham for 32 years. Other parishes were added to the benefice, and Fr. Ted did his utmost to serve these communities to his very best, maintaining a punishing schedule of visiting and service taking. As he rushed between parishes on a Sunday he was affectionately known as the ‘black streak’, and often services did not begin on time.
Many of his former parishioners in Hitcham remember Fr. Ted with great fondness, speaking of his commitment, his dedication to working with the youth, memories of youthful days spent in the Rectory, dens being built in the Rectory garden, parish outings to Bawdsey beach with cakes and sandwiches, or walks with Ted’s dog, Dixie.
He took an early retirement in December 1992, and in March of the following year he visited Greece for the first time, and this began the second major phase of his priestly life. He offered himself to be a supporting chaplain for the congregations of St. Paul’s Athens, St. Peter’s Kifissia, and a monthly visit to St. Andrew’s Patras in the western Peloponnese. He was ‘priest in charge’ during a vacancy until Fr. Malcolm Bradshaw was appointed Senior Chaplain.
Ted was persuaded by some church-attenders to look to Tolo, near to Nafplio. Here he made his home in an idyllic but simple cottage overlooking the sea from a good vantage point. He had his little garden by the cliff side where he used to go and sit looking out over the sea. It was his pride and joy.
Fr. Ted continued to visit Patras, accompanied and chauffeured by Tom until recently, a Congregational Worship Leader. Tom benefitted greatly from Fr. Ted’s guidance and training in the conduct of worship – and in particular the choosing of appropriate hymns for the worship. Ted loved the beauty of liturgy and knew all too well its importance and value in people’s lives.
Ted was firmly at home in Greece, and never really contemplated returning to the UK even when his sight was failing, and other complications setting in. Anyway, he was so well looked after by Farid for 25 years that he treated him a like a son, and with Ted’s death Farid felt he had lost his father.
Tom would say that most people who met Fr. Ted found in him a true gentleman, generous with his time. His faith was unshakable. In moments of reflection he would think up ideas of what could be done to further the church’s witness, or indeed to comment on what wasn’t being done! I would receive a phone call from him offering me his wisdom, a wisdom forged in the experience of being a priest for so long, and from a certain era.
Fr. Ted was much loved and will be missed. He was one of Greece’s Anglican nonagenarians – a small group of very remarkable people. May he rest in peace.