Tributes paid to ‘wonderful, courageous and lovely’ Hugh

PUBLISHED: 07:12 20 September 2015

Hugh Barlow with Margaret Pilkington,Miriam Brown and Elizabeth Barlow outside Sidmouth Unitarian church. Ref shs 9502-26-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Hugh Barlow with Margaret Pilkington,Miriam Brown and Elizabeth Barlow outside Sidmouth Unitarian church. Ref shs 9502-26-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

A theologian who helped bring same-sex marriage to Sidmouth will remain in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.

Hugh Barlow taught geography but was soon drawn to the church, earning a Bachelor of Divinity before going on to train ministers in England and Nigeria.

On returning to London, Hugh met Elizabeth and they enjoyed a happy marriage of 45 years.

In 2005, they retired to Seaton, where Hugh became deeply involved in the running and management of the town’s food bank. He later advised the founders of the Sid Valley group.

Seaton’s Christian Aid group was nearly at the point of collapse, but he succeeded in restoring it to a going concern.

In June, Hugh led Sidmouth Unitarian Church to become the first church in Devon to offer same-sex marriages, after a year-long application process.

“He was 76, but he never retired,” said Elizabeth. “He wasn’t doing paid work, but he was always doing something.

“He was absolutely delighted to get the permission [for same-sex marriages]. It was such a battle.”

She added: “When he was in hospital, he couldn’t understand why he had so many visitors. He was really popular.

“Now, I find when I walk around town that people are still asking about him. He was wonderful.”

Hugh died on August 27. His funeral last Friday was attended by 65 people and led by a retired Unitarian minister, the Reverend Tony McNeile, who spoke of Hugh’s work and studies, his cheerfulness and his sense of humour.

A friend, Miriam Brown said: “Hugh will remain in the hearts and minds of all who knew him, as a man of gentle speech and of both spiritual and practical wisdom.”

Robert Crick, another friend, paid tribute to his valiance and courage.

He said: “He was very good at quietly and mildly standing his ground about homelessness or assisted dying, and discussing issues that are controversial in a way that was so very inoffensive.”


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