Leighton-Linslade lost a well-known retired clergyman with the death on July 17 of Alan Freeman.
Born at the railway station in Lamport, Northamptonshire (where his father was Station Master) on October 1, 1927, Alan was the third child of Samuel and Annie Freeman.
After growing up during the Second World War, Alan entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in October 1945 reading Civil Engineering, graduating with a B.A. (Honours) degree in 1948.
Following National Service mainly served in Kenya, he trained for the ministry at Salisbury Theological College from 1950, and was ordained as a deacon on June 8, 1952.
Following their retirement, Alan’s parents moved to Penmaenmawr in North Wales. This is where Alan met Margot Cliffe who became his wife on January 14, 1952 at St Seiriol’s Church, where Margot was chorister and sacristan.
As a candidate for ordination, Alan helped with services when home during college vacations and St Seiriol’s Church brought him and Margot together.
Alan served his title as Assistant Curate of Christ Church, West Green at Tottenham in Greater London, being priested in St Paul’s Cathedral on May 31, 1953 by the Bishop of London, then the Rt Rev and Rt Hon William Wand. He moved to St Nicholas, Harpenden as Assistant Curate in 1955, being given special responsibility for the daughter church of All Saints’, Coldharbour Lane and beginning an association with St Alban’s diocese which was to last for the rest of his life.
In 1960 Alan was appointed as Rector of St Botolph, Aspley Guise, also serving as Rural Dean for the deanery of Fleet from 1967 to 1970 and the deanery of Ampthill from 1970 to 1975. In 1974 he was appointed as an Honorary Canon of St Alban’s Cathedral and Abbey Church, before becoming the seventh Vicar of St John’s, Boxmoor in 1975. He was a Parish Councillor in Aspley Guise and served as chairman of the council for a number of years.
As a pastor, he was immediately aware of the needs of every individual under his care, offering guidance, comfort, support and encouragement. His duties included the Chaplaincy of Hemel Hempstead General Hospital (West Herts wing) throughout his time at Boxmoor, and he was appointed Rural Dean of Berkhamsted deanery (which in those days included Hemel Hempstead) in 1985, remaining in that post until his retirement.
In the wider Church, Alan was elected as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England during the 1970s and served as chairman of the House of Clergy in the St Albans Diocesan Synod for many years, as well as holding other positions within the Diocese.
Alan retired to Leighton Buzzard in 1992, becoming a Canon Emeritus of the Cathedral, and rapidly involved himself with the ministry of All Saints, becoming a regular member of the ministry team and taking an especially active role during their vacancy of 2002/3.
He was well known in the surrounding parishes as he regularly took services in Billington, Stanbridge, Tilsworth, Totternhoe, Heath & Reach, Hockliffe and Toddington, especially when there were vacancies for clergy in these.
All Saints Church saw celebration Eucharist Services to celebrate Alan and Margot’s golden wedding in 2002, Alan’s 50th anniversary of Ordination in 2003 and his 60th anniversary of ordination in 2013.
Alan’s Ministry at both Boxmoor and, in retirement, Leighton Buzzard will have touched on the lives of many people in our community.
During the period of huge house price increases in the late 1970s and the 1980s many young couples from Hemel Hempstead were married by Alan at Boxmoor and then moved to live in Leighton Buzzard and Linslade where (at the time) house prices were more realistic.
After retirement Alan helped many families with bereavement and conducted funeral services for their loved ones.
During his time at Aspley Guise, Alan’s sons Mark and David attended the local Primary school before moving to Cedars School in Linslade, and his daughter Barbara attended Ridgmont Primary School. After retirement to Leighton Buzzard, Alan was part of two of Mark’s civic services when Town Mayor in 2001 and 2006, missing the third in 2007 due to having undergone major surgery.
Despite being born in Northamptonshire, Alan’s family link with Leighton Buzzard and Linslade goes back to the early 1800s. His great-great grandparents were married in All Saints Church in 1825 and his great grandparents in St Barnabas Church in 1854.
Alan’s Requiem at All Saints’, Leighton Buzzard on July 31 was well-attended, including several of his former parishioners and colleagues. In the address, Rev Canon Grant Fellows spoke eloquently of Alan as a godly man whose priestly qualities were exemplified both as a doer and as a believer.
Alan, of Queen Street, Leighton Buzzard, is survived by his children Mark, David and Barbara and their families. His beloved wife Margot of 56 years died in 2008. His ashes will be interred at St John’s Boxmoor, alongside Margot.