A CLERGYMAN who served in two Essex parishes for a total of 27 years has died at the age of 86.

The Rev John Shillaker was rector of the parish of New Town and The Hythe in Colchester for 11 years, from 1984 to 1995, having previously served for 16 years at St Luke’s parish at Moulsham Lodge, Chelmsford.

Mr Shillaker was also involved with the Chelmsford Diocesan Course for Christian Studies.

He was born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey and after leaving school he worked briefly at the Bank of England before joining the Royal Air Force for his National Service in the 1950s, where he served as a Lance Corporal in Malaya.

He enjoyed this time immensely and also signed up as a short-term regular airman. It was during this time he became a committed Christian and the seeds were sown for his future ministry.

After leaving the RAF he attended King’s College London and he was ordained deacon at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1961.

Read more:

He was appointed curate at Bush Hill Park in Enfield before becoming priest in charge at a parish in New Milton, Hampshire.

Mr Shillaker was married to his wife, Christine, for 59 years and they had a son, Mark, and daughters, Frances and Mary, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

In 1969 the family moved to Chelmsford where he served the parish of St Luke’s on Moulsham Lodge.

Sixteen years later they moved again, to Colchester where he took charge of the combined parish of the former parishes of St Leonard-at-the-Hythe, St Mary Magdalen and St Stephen’s. He was instrumental in beginning the much-needed renewal of the church buildings at St Stephen’s.

He retired in 1995, completing his ministry.

Mr Shillaker had been much involved in the movement for the ordination of women and was supportive of Christine’s ministry at St Michael’s at Ramsey and Little Oakley.

On Christine’s retirement, they returned to live in Colchester and became parishioners to St Stephen’s Church.

Aside from his service to the church and his parishioners, Mr Shillaker was known to be highly intelligent with an inquiring mind.

He was active in his community and campaigned for peace and justice.

He was kind, with a wonderful sense of the absurd and he had a great appreciation of beauty.

He loved real ale, whisky, JS Bach, trad jazz, buses and trains, the natural world, strong tea and The Goon Show.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Society UK or UNICEF UK Protect Children in Yemen campaign.