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Former Suffolk Bishop remembered for his leadership during Suffolk Strangler murders

PUBLISHED: 16:04 01 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:04 01 October 2020

Bishop Richard Lewis was Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich from 1997 to 2007 Picture: RICHARD SNASDELL

Bishop Richard Lewis was Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich from 1997 to 2007 Picture: RICHARD SNASDELL

Tributes have been paid to a former Suffolk bishop who was a friend to the county’s farmers and is remembered for his community leadership after the murder of five women.

Bishop Richard Lewis leading prayers at Ipswch Town's POrtman Road ground for the five women murdered in Ipswich in 2006 Picture: SIMON PARKERBishop Richard Lewis leading prayers at Ipswch Town's POrtman Road ground for the five women murdered in Ipswich in 2006 Picture: SIMON PARKER

Bishop Richard Lewis, who was the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich from 1997 to 2007, has died at the age of 77 following a short illness.

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, the current bishop, spoke of Bishop Richard’s kindness, wisdom and how he was a champion for the farming community.

Bishop Martin said: “I know many people will be sad to hear the news of Bishop Richard’s death.

“I first got to know Richard during the 1990s when he was Bishop of Taunton and was grateful then, and ever since, for his graciousness, wisdom, kindness and gentle humour.

On his bike for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust cycle ride in 2006, Bishop Richard Lewis gets ready to set off Picture: LUCY TAYLOROn his bike for the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust cycle ride in 2006, Bishop Richard Lewis gets ready to set off Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

“Richard was a countryman at heart and early on in his ministry had been an agricultural chaplain.

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“He was a well-known figure in the farming community especially when he was President of the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

“He was always concerned to support farmers and the farming industry in Suffolk.

Former Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis  Picture: RICHARD SNASDELLFormer Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis Picture: RICHARD SNASDELL

“He is well remembered for his support for Suffolk farmers during the swine flu outbreak, too.”

He is also remembered for his sensitive leadership following the murder of five women in Ipswich in 2006 and was invited by Ipswich Town Football Club to lead prayers for the victims and their families ahead of a match.

It was during Richard’s time as Bishop that work was completed on the Cathedral’s Millennium Tower in Bury St Edmunds, now one of the most iconic landmarks in the county and it was a huge joy for him to see this work competed.

Before coming to Suffolk, he served as Bishop of Taunton from 1992 to 1997 and before that he served in Hereford, Durham and Newcastle.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis opening the new Ipswich Preparatory School building in Ivry Street, Ipswich in 2006 Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis opening the new Ipswich Preparatory School building in Ivry Street, Ipswich in 2006 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Rev Canon Graham Hedger said: “We also remember at this time Richard’s son, Peter, who died not long after Richard came to Suffolk, and remember the weight of grief his tragic death laid upon Richard and his wife, Sara.”

Bishop Martin has sent condolences on behalf of the Church of England in Suffolk to Richard’s wife, Sara and their children Nick and Mike together with their families.


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