The end of an eraThursday 28 June 2012
The 2012 Down and Dromore Diocesan Synod marked the retirement of the two Honorary Secretaries (Lay) and another long serving Council member, Mr Bert Wilson.
Bishop Harold described it as a “rare day when three such servants of the church retire,” and went on to thank each one individually for their invaluable contribution to the life of the Diocese of Down and Dromore. He presented each with gift, including a Down and Dromore plaque.
Mr Fred Rankin served on the Diocesan Council and many of its committees for 30 years and spent the last 12 as Honorary Secretary (Down). He also represented the diocese on the Representative Church Body.
Fred was born in Belfast and attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He qualified as a Pharmaceutical Chemist in 1949 and, after some years in the family business, became Northern Ireland manager for an international chemical company, retiring in 1992.
A parishioner (and Honorary Treasurer) of Drumbo in the Diocese of Down, Fred published a history of the parish in 1981. A member and one–time chairman of the Lisburn Historical Society, he has contributed to its journal; he is also chairman of the Lecale Historical Society and has contributed to the Lecale Miscellany.
Fred was secretary to the Diocesan Library Committee for many years and was actively involved in the publication of the Succession Lists of the Clergy of Connor and of Down and Dromore; for the latter he wrote short histories of each parish in the diocese. Both of these books were published by the Ulster Historical Foundation. Among other roles, he was a representative of the Council on the Board of Down Cathedral, in whose work he is deeply involved and about which he published a book (sadly, no longer available).
Fred said that the outstanding event for him in his time on Diocesan Council was to oversee the move into the current diocesan offices.
Mr Desmond Linton was a Diocesan Council member for 26 years and became Honorary Secretary (Dromore) in 1993. Amongst other responsibilities, Desmond served on the Joint Committee the Library Committee and Down Cathedral Board. He has lived almost all of his life in Castlewellan and worships at St Paul’s.
After getting his first degree in botany at Queen’s, Desmond went to Magill, Canada, and gained a Bachelor in Library studies. Returning to Belfast, he enjoyed 36 years as the Medical Libarian at QUB, occupying a joint role for Northern Ireland Health and Social Services and the Medical Library. Desmond and his team served health professionals throughout the province and pioneered many methods of sharing information.
Reflecting on his retirement from Diocesan Council, Desmond wished to pay tribute to Mr Neil Wilson and his successor, Mr June Butler. He commended them and their teams for running each Diocesan Synod with great skill, probity and politeness.
Mr Bert Wilson
Mr Bert Wilson joined the Diocesan Council 17 years ago and served on both the Permanent Commission and the Finance Committee. A Portadown man, involvement in the parish of St Mark’s gave way to a major role in setting up the new parish of St Columba’s in the Diocese of Armagh. Bert is honoured to have been the first Secretary to the Select Vestry there. Marriage, however, brought him to Banbridge in the Diocese of Dromore and the Parish of Seapatrick where he still worships.
Bert trained as an Environmental Health Inspector, but was clearly destined to be an instigator of new things. This time it was the Northern Ireland Housing Executive which he helped to set up. He became its first Regional Housing and Planning Manager in 1972 and was made MBE in 1994. Bert retired from the NIHE in 1995 and joined the Diocesan Council in the same year.
Reflecting on his retirement from the Diocesan Council, Bert said that it was the people he would miss most and offered some words from the Irish poet W B Yeats:
“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say, our glory was, we had such friends.”