Obituary - Canon Alan Butler
ALAN Butler was a curate at Kimberley Cathedral in South Africa for only one year when in 1960 the Bishop sent him to Kuruman in the Kalahari as rector and missionary for a vast district. He hitch hiked with one suitcase along a dirt road from Kimberley to Kuruman. The chap who gave him a lift bought him an old Chev car. He loved the Northern Cape and her people and said that it was the 'real' Africa.
Alan, who later became Canon of Kimberley Cathedral steeped himself in history and was very knowledgeable about the area. Alan and Hilda married in the Moffat Mission Church in 1964 and after only eight months the Bishop sent him to the new capital Gaberone ( not yet built ) to found and build Trinity Church, an ecumenical venture. He was involved in many projects like starting up a Co-op food store; he initiated the starting of a multi-national school and was at one time deputy mayor. In 1970 he made way for a national man and returned to England where he led a large Charismatic Church in Coventry. By 1979 he was on the move again and volunteered to work once again in his beloved Kalahari. Bishop Chadwick snapped him up and sent him back to Kuruman where he embarked on the massive task of restoring the Moffat Mission to its former glory as it had fallen on hard times because of apartheid and the Bantu education act. The church was the only building standing in fairly good condition. It was the place to which David Livingstone first went and launched his ventures into the then 'unknown regions beyond' as Robert Moffat, the founder of the Mission, called it. Alan worked happily there for the next 14 years 'raising the money and spending it' himself. Many people from all over the world helped. In 1993 he was asked to be the Electoral Officer for the Northern Cape; he was always interested in politics and that was the cherry on the cake. He retired to Wimborne in 1995 and became part of the Minster staff.
Hilda and Alan taken on their 46th anniversary in April last year.
His great love, next to his books ( he was a sign writer/ bookbinder/ handy man) and his beloved Africa, was bell ringing which he did in his teens. There were no bells to ring in Africa. On the 12th December he slipped on some ice going into church right under the Minster bell tower and broke his hip. He had suffered for many years from Parkinson's disease and never really recovered from the op. He was a kind, gentle, faithful, prayerful, upright man full of grace and favour and died peacefully in Wimborne Hospital on 13th January.
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Hilary and their children Carey and Eleanor say Alan will be greatly missed by them and all the family.
Canon John Holbrook, rector of Wimborne Minster said: "Alan was a great man and a true friend to many.
"His contribution to the life of the Minster has been enormous, as a mainstay of our daily prayers, faithfully holding before God those visitors who had asked us to pray for them, as an enthusiastic bellringer, as an inspiring priest, as a deeply loving husband and father. I and many others will miss him more than we can put into words."
Canon Butler's funeral is being held at Wimborne Minster today (Friday 21st January) at 2pm. Family flowers only, but donations in his memory to Botswana HIV Orphans may be sent to Douch and Small in Leigh Road.