AID Association for the Independence of Disabled People - Tragic Death of Nigel Holmes, One of AID’s First Patrons

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Tragic Death of Nigel Holmes, One of AID’s First Patrons

Tragic Death of Nigel Holmes, One of AID’s First Patrons

Obituary

Tragic Death of Nigel Holmes, One of AID’s First Patrons

“For me six words sum up Nigel Holmes: kindness, generosity, precision, knowledge, integrity and courage.”

The words of the Ven Richard Pratt, the Archdeacon of West Cumberland, as he led the funeral at Wetheral Parish Church of Nigel Holmes, a well-known broadcaster and regular contributor to The Way.

Nigel’s sudden death from a heart attack on 20 March 2019, sparked many tributes to a man who only last year marked half a century in the field of mass communication.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, said: “Nigel was a good friend and remained a passionate and committed advocate of the place that religious programming should have within public sector broadcasting.

“It was a strong conviction built upon an equally strong faith. Nigel served selflessly within a church, parish and diocesan setting. He was never afraid to challenge when challenge was needed and brought great insight, coupled with a ready wit, to the many discussions we had together about faith issues and more generally the workings of the Church of England. I thank God for all that Nigel has given within Cumbria and nationally, to proclaim the gospel message to as wide an audience as possible.”

Nigel was a BBC local radio producer for 30 years, initially at BBC Radio Durham before the station’s closure saw a move to BBC Radio Carlisle – later BBC Radio Cumbria. He won three national awards for religious broadcasting.    

After leaving the BBC he was invited to re-launch and run the Church of England’s regular publication with the largest circulation - The Reader magazine - for ten years.   He also served as a Reader for 33 years; 25 of those, representing the Diocese of Carlisle in the General Synod.   

That gave him the platform from which to question the progressive marginalization of religious broadcasting, particularly in television, by means of two Private Member’s Motion which attracted much national publicity.   He was also the Church of England's representative on what is now the Church and Media Network and, more broadly, served on the Church’s Board of Mission.

Dave Roberts, Communications Manager for the Diocese of Carlisle, said: “Ever since my appointment in 2012, Nigel has been a constant source of support and encouragement. As a journalist, he was never shy at coming forward with wonderful story and feature ideas for The Way. His knowledge of the faith landscape both locally and nationally was incredible, yet he was always so generous in the sharing of that knowledge. I shall miss Nigel greatly.” 

Nigel, who was 74, leaves his wife, Susan, who was the Diocesan Registrar from 1991 to 2005 and who was also ordained Priest in 2007, and their two children Andrew and Helen.

 

(Dave Roberts, The Way, Spring 2019)”

 

On a personal note, my wife, Ruth, and I heard the news of Nigel’s sudden death with shock and much sadness. Ruth and I married in 1991 as a direct result of my listening to his live broadcast whilst driving my tractor on my farm near Kirklinton.  HM The Queen was paying a visit to Sedbergh School to present a new Charter and Nigel was covering the visit for Radio Cumbria.  British Rail, in their wisdom, forgot that the station platform at Kirkby Stephen and the Royal train had not met before and the gap from the station platform to the floor of the train was too great for the Queen to step out.  So someone had to find, or make up, some steps very quickly.  Poor Nigel was advised he had to keep talking for another twenty minutes and became an instant expert on the School’s architecture.  Then, seeing a group of ladies with the Headmaster and entourage, he almost gave a sigh of relief as he saw some familiar faces.  His commentary continued, “…and there, standing on the steps waiting to greet the Queen, are the three daughters of Lord Wakefield of Kendal, famous former schoolboy at Sedbergh” and then mentioned their names, one of them being my wife, Ruth.  We had grown up together during the war as our parents were both lifelong friends and business partners and I was somewhat crestfallen back in 1955 when Ruth married her Grenadier Guards sweetheart and was posted overseas.  Suddenly, remembering that Ruth’s family had lived in Kendal for several lifetimes, I found her telephone number in the local directory that evening and called her.  She had lost her husband a few years earlier and much had happened in our lives.  To cut a long story short, I went to see her a few days later and we married in 1991. We were determined to find Nigel and thank him for that rather incredible re-introduction.  He and Susan came to dinner shortly thereafter, we became friends and when we set up this charity, one of the first people I invited to become a Patron was Nigel and he pulled his weight to help us in every way he could.

 

His death was an absolute tragedy for his immediate and close family and a tremendous loss to anyone who knew him or had had contact with him in his amazingly varied and full life.  

 

We send our heartfelt sympathies to Susan, Andrew and Helen.

 

Paul Adorian

Managing Director, AID

 

 

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