Ashes of priest are buried at old church

Reverend John Bunker.
Reverend John Bunker.

THE ashes of a former vicar of Ashington’s Holy Sepulchre church have been laid to rest in its grounds.

The Reverend John Bunker spent ten years at the Wansbeck Road church, starting in 1974.

He died earlier this month at the age of 81.

Born in London, Rev Bunker came to the north east in 1957, taking up the post of curate at St John the Baptist’s Church in Grainger Street, Newcastle.

Having originally trained as an architect, he later employed his design skills to adapt traditional church layouts to bring priest and congregation together at the altar.

Rev Bunker first tried to put his layout ideas into practice St Hilda’s Church in Marden, North Shields, but was not able to see them through there.

He had more success at his next church, St Michael’s in Byker, however, making it the first in the diocese of Newcastle to celebrate mass in the inclusive style he advocated.

That style was later embraced by many other churches in the region, including Ashington’s Holy Sepulchre.

In 1982, Rev Bunker helped organise a celebration for 12,000 people at Gosforth Park to mark the centenary of the diocese of Newcastle.

His daughter Liz Barnes, 46, said: “He was a very positive man – enthusiastic in his work. I think that’s why he was good at his job.

“He wanted to help out and make a difference in the community.

“He had an impact on anyone and everyone he touched.”

Rev Bunker is survived by his wife Marlene, four children and four grandchildren.

His funeral was held at St Augustine’s Church in Halifax, where he worked from 1984 until 1995.