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News > Fondly Remembered > Rev Richard James Bradnum, OH 1948-57

Rev Richard James Bradnum, OH 1948-57

Rev Richard James Bradnum
Rev Richard James Bradnum

Dick’s father and mine were wholesale fruit merchants, occupying adjacent offices close to the Hull docks. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, we were together at Hymers College, where we both won scholarships after our 11-plus exams. During those early years, Dick and I became firm friends. We played football together on the beach at Bridlington. Dick devoted long phone calls to helping me with my Latin homework. We occasionally cut the tedious school lunches to go into town for a proper meal — beans or scrambled egg on toast, if we could afford it.

On one such occasion, walking back across the bomb-scarred streets to the school, Dick stopped me and pointed down a road that led to the poorest part of the city. I forget exactly what he said, but it was clear that he felt very deeply about the plight of those people — an early intimation of a later, deeper calling? Dick was no saint, and we had fun. One boy in our class was so brilliant that at the age of about 15 he gained an Exhibition to read maths at Cambridge. The entire school was green with envy. But then he failed O-level history, whereupon Dick couldn’t contain his glee. We saw less of one another in the sixth form. Dick studied Classics and languages, and I chose the sciences. He was appointed joint head boy. We were together for the activities of the Combined Cadet Force, in which Dick was quartermaster-sergeant. At a camp near Dundee, our school contingent became irritated by the constant bagpipe-playing of a rival Scottish group. One night, several of us, including Dick, crept into the other camp and filled their bagpipes with water. We had fun. After school, Dick did National Service, and then went to Oxford, where he met Margaret, who was to become his wife. He obtained a first-class degree in theology. Dick was very touched by a letter of congratulation which he received from our school Latin master, who had been following his progress through the intervening years.

Dick was a year ahead of me at Ridley Hall in Cambridge, where we both trained for the ministry. His contemporaries included John Pridmore; and Dick was elected senior student. I attended his ordination at St Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham. Dick and his new rector, Canon Brian Green, were in many ways like-minded. Both had the passion of the best Evangelicals, but a commitment to inclusiveness which much of the Church of England appears to have lost. My meetings with Dick, and, later, Margaret, became more sporadic. He introduced me to the bitterly ironic poems of the First World War poet, G. A. Studdert-Kennedy. On one occasion, we went together to meet the Bishop of Hull to ask him how he managed to reconcile Christianity with being a Freemason. The bishop was not at all happy to discover how much we knew about his allegedly secret society.

A few years ago, Dick came over to Hull from Huddersfield, where he had retired with Margaret, within easy access of their two children. We visited our school together, the place by the Hull docks where our fathers had worked in adjacent offices, and several other places. Dick’s ministry in the parishes where he served was totally committed to the congregations, whom he loved and cared for more deeply than his own well-being. He was a prophet with a passion for justice. His death at the end of a prolonged degenerative illness leaves a vacuum in all our lives.

The Revd Richard James Bradnum died on 16 August 2008, aged 82

Obituary written by The Revd Dr David L.Gosling

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