Tributes paid to former Sandy rector and school governor

Rev Eric Rowland
Rev Eric Rowland

A former rector of Sandy between 1979 and 2000 has died.

Rev Eric Rowland died on January 28, aged 79.

Eric attended the College of the Resurrection at Mirfield and was made Deacon in 1963.

He served as Assistant Curate of South Kirkby and was ordained Priest in Wakefield Cathedral in 1964.

From 1965 to 1970 he was Assistant Curate of Headingley and served as Vicar of Osmondthorpe in Leeds from 1970 to 1979.

In 1979 Eric, his wife Sally and his three children moved to Sandy when Eric was presented to the Living of Sandy.

The service of Institution was conducted by the Rt Rev Robert Runcie, Bishop of St Albans, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Eucharist or service of Holy Communion was at the centre of Eric’s ministry and under his ministry the congregation of St Swithun’s all felt part of a close family whether in its worship or in its busy social life.

The highlight of the social year was the annual Garden Fete held in the Rectory gardens at St Swithunstide.

The gardens were greatly beautified by Eric and Sally and in particular they were very proud of the wonderful herbaceous border which they created along the garden’s south wall.

As Chairman of the Governor’s, Eric took a very keen interest in St Swithun’s School and during his Chairmanship he oversaw the move from the old school in St Neots Road to the new one erected in Ivel Road.

The new school was opened in 1987 by the Church’s patron, Francis Pym.

Whilst Rector, Eric served as Rural Dean of Biggleswade from 1985 to 1994 with all the additional duties that went with that office.

In 2000 Eric decided to retire and he was only the second Rector for many centuries to retire from the Living.

A large number of parishioners met at Sandye Place School when a presentation was made to him and Sally.

He and Sally moved to Ely and he was later to serve as Honorary Priest Vicar in the Cathedral.

They often welcomed Sandy friends to their new home where they again created a beautiful garden.

In 2004 a large number of parishioners from Sandy travelled to Ely when a Sung Eucharist was held in the cathedral to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Eric’s Ordination to the Priesthood.

Eric and Sally would often return to Sandy to attend a parishioner’s family celebration or on the sad occasion of the funeral of an old friend.

Eric had been ill for some time before his death.

His funeral service took place in the Cathedral at Ely on February 13 when many from Sandy attended.