THE Rev Richard Harding, who retired to Yarmouth 11 years ago, died at home on Christmas Day, aged 79.

Richard and wife Janet moved to the Island following his retirement from full-time church ministry in Devon and continued to play an active part in the local community, officiating at many services.

Rev Harding was born in Salisbury, attending Bromsgrove School and, afterwards, followed a career in horticulture specialising in commercial horticulture and top fruit.

He was a student and demonstrator at Pershore College of Horticulture, Worcester, followed by a teaching qualification for college-age students.

In 1968, he met Janet at Somerset Agriculture College where she was a dairying lecturer when Richard joined the staff as a lecturer.

They married in 1969 near Newbury where Janet's father was a rector and moved to Suffolk after he joined the Ministry of Agriculture as an advisor.

In 1983, he was ordained and became a Curate at Pershore Abbey. His first full Vicar's post was with four rural parishes in South Worcester.

Rev Harding was then moved by the Bishop to serve at Catshill, Bromsgrove — a challenging town parish hemmed in by motorways.

This was followed, in 2002, with a move to South Devon where Richard was Rector of four rural parishes which led to nine churches in total.

The couple retired to Yarmouth in 2010, continuing their commitment to community and local churches and enjoying their shared hobbies of gardening and dog walking.

He said: "It has been a privilege to walk with so many people and share their joys and sorrows on the journey we are all taking."

He was described as: "A lovely dedicated and approachable man, a friendly gentle gentleman and a lovely person who had time for everyone — a very kind and thoughtful man."

A special service in his memory has been conducted by Rev Leisa Potter at St James' Church, Yarmouth. His funeral details will be published in the Parish newsletter, and on the website

Rev Harding is survived by Janet, daughters Ann and Liz and grandchildren Peter and Leif.