The untimely death, on 26 June, of Neil Collings has deprived the Church and Freemasonry of a man of great faith, infinite caring and intellect. A proud Devonian, Neil Collings felt an early call to the ministry and after reading theology at Kings College, London, trained for the priesthood at St Augustine’s Canterbury. After serving as a Curate and Team Vicar at Exmouth he was called to Hereford as Rector of St Nicholas with additional responsibility as Director of Ordinands, Chaplain to the Bishop and a Prebendary of Hereford Cathedral.
In 1986 he began thirteen very happy years as Rector of St Nicholas Church, Harpenden where his ministry was marked by high-quality worship, good preaching and much sensitive pastoral work. He was appointed an honorary Canon of St Alban’s Abbey in 1996.
In 1999 he returned to Devon as Canon Residentiary and Treasurer at Exeter Cathedral where his financial and management skills were greatly appreciated and lead to his acting as Dean for thirteen months from 2004.
In 2006 he was appointed Dean of St Edmondsbury and his work on the fabric there will be a lasting memorial to him. His work was sadly cut short by the discovery of a disabling brain tumour in 2008, from which he never recovered.
Throughout his busy Church life he was also a devoted and very open Freemason, in a period when Freemasonry was not looked kindly on by the Synod and other Church groups. He served as Grand Chaplain 1999-2002 and was a very active and thoughtful Third Grand Principal 2002-2010. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.