THE Rev Canon Cliff Davies, Rector of Ruardean and former journalist has died aged 76 after a short illness.

Cliff was rector at St John the Baptist Church in Ruardean for 19 years until he retired in 2006.

He also worked as a reporter for local newspapers for 27 years, including The Forester’s predecessor, the Dean Forest Mercury and as the Forest of Dean reporter for the Gloucester Citizen.

As a young man he enjoyed boxing and played rugby for Drybrook Rugby Club where he also served as president for many years.

On being ordained in 1983, he served as a curate in Drybrook’s Holy Trinity Church and in 1986 was appointed Rector at the Parish Church of St John The Baptist, Ruardean, a post he held with distinction for 19 years until his retirement in 2006.

He was also a governor of Ruardean Primary School.

Susan Rushton, former chief reporter for the Forester said: “As a journalist Cliff was always diplomatic and discreet and was highly regarded locally. He was also an example to aspiring reporters such as me.

“When he relinquished journalism, turned his collar round and was ordained, his personality matched his calling and his ministry in Ruardean was widely appreciated.”

Yvonne Sainsbury was the organist at Ruardean church throughout The Rev Davies’s 19-years incumbency and still plays there.

She said: “I was very fond of Cliff. He was a wonderful, wonderful man, always caring, considerate and encouraging."

The Rev Nick Bromfield who took over as Rector at Ruardean in 2006, said: “Cliff was a tower of strength, inspiration and encouragement to me when I was a young rector.

“He was like a big uncle to me, always affirmative, always on hand for advice and guidance, not just for me but for many other people."

A statement from Drybrook Rugby Club read: “Cliff Davies was a very popular President of the club from 1986/87 to 1996/7 and often spoke with pride of his time in office which included some of the most notable years in the club’s existence.

“It was a real struggle for the club to keep going in the late 1950s / early 60s, often turning out with only 13 men, and one of Cliff’s favourite tales from these times was when the team suffered a particularly heavy defeat at ConeyHill.

“No one knew what the final margin of defeat was until they were able to stop at Westgate Bridge on the way home to purchase the ’Pink Un’ newspaper to check the result."

A funeral service and interment will take place at The Parish Church of St. John The Baptist, Ruardean at noon on Friday, Jan 26.

Donations, if desired, for Ruardean Parish Church, may be left on the church plate or sent to Roger Barnard, Funeral Director, 88, Littledean Hill Road, Cinderford, GL14 2BL (Cheques payable to R.V. Barnard Donations Account, please).