The Anonymous Widower

Man of the Noughties

They were talking as I drove back to Suffolk about who were the most influential men and women, who have died in the last decade.  The usual suspects were all paraded from Ronald Reagan to George Best, the Queen Mother and Heath Ledger.

But the decade saw the passing of the Reverend Chad Varah.

So why should I as someone, who has no religion, say that Chad Varah should be included on any list of important people of the noughties?  He has probably done more to help people in distress, first in the UK and then on a world-wide basis, than any other person of the last fifty years.  Most know that he founded the Samaritans, but read his entry in Wikpedia and you’ll see that he was involved in sexual education, stopping female genital mutilation and many other causes that affect how we all live in this complicated society. He was even a consultant to The Eagle comic.

But I had a personal link to the Chad Varah.  My wife gave her body to medical science and there was a Memorial Service in Southwark Cathedral for all those who had done so in 2007.

I wrote this after the service.

In the Order of Service is a list of over two hundred who gave their bodies in 2007.  Amongst is Edward Chad Varah, who founded the Samaritans.

One day in about 1973 or so, our marriage was at a very low ebb.  We had debts, a grotty, damp, rented, fourth-floor flat in St. John’s Wood, three children and to say the least, divorce was more than a possibility.  I had a small consultancy job at Lloyds Bank and as I was walking home, I passed his church, St. Stephen Wallbrook, where the Samaritans were based.

I saw the sign and was somehow drawn into the church, before spending half an hour or so with the Reverend Varah.  He talked me through our problems and made several practical suggestions, most of which worked.

We were always in debt to that kind and compassionate priest. 

My wife never knew of this until I told her, when I heard of his death on the radio, a month before she herself died.  I should have told her earlier.

So when you talk of great men and women, don’t forget the Reverend Chad Varah.  We can all learn a lot from his wonderful example.

December 13, 2009 - Posted by | World | , ,


  1. […] late wife.  Not sure what the relationship is, but she came to my wife’s memorial service in Southwark Cathedral. In fact she sat next to me.  So in addition to everything else, she deserved my respect and I […]

    Pingback by A Funeral « The Anonymous Widower | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] where the memorial service was held for C and all the others, including that great humanitarian  Chad Varah who gave their bodies to medical science in 2007. The service was non-denominational and very […]

    Pingback by London’s Forgotten Cathedral « The Anonymous Widower | December 29, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] On the Eastern side is the historic church of |St. Stephen Walbrook, where I once met Chad Varah; the founder of The Samaritans, who for personal and wider reasons, I nominated at Man of the Noughties. […]

    Pingback by Between Bank And Cannon Street Station « The Anonymous Widower | January 19, 2017 | Reply

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