VERGER RETIRES AFTER 45 YEARS

Phillip Williams, Verger at St Margaret’s Anglican Church since 1967, retired on the 28 September 2012 after 45 years of service. Said past churchwarden Brian Mundy, “We have been privileged to work with him all these years, to have chatted with him, to have asked his opinion and sought his vast knowledge of the people, past and present, who pass through our doors.

“Everyone of us, whether we be church-member or vagrant at the door, has been served with honour as unto the Lord and we in our turn now seek to honour Phillip for who he is to each one of us,” he added.

Phillip, who turned 70 in March this year, is recognised as a man of integrity and dignity, a man who knows who he is and what he wants – a strong man and an intelligent man who, given different circumstances in his youth, would not have worked at St Margaret’s. After his father’s premature death, he and his elder brother had to leave Athlone High School where Phillip had just completed Junior Certificate and was looking to continue his studies.

His first job was an administrative role for Reckitt & Colman in Ndabeni, after which he joined a shoe manufacturer in Salt River as a machinist. After some six years, he was wondering what to turn his hand to next when he heard that St Margaret’s needed temporary gardening help. However, he soon added other responsibilities to this role, taking on maintenance jobs that needed doing, becoming the official caretaker/verger.

Says Phillip, “I believe that with the right skills, you can do anything” speaking of his time when he and his wife Shirley both worked day and night in order to ensure their children received a good education. “My wife and I made many sacrifices and worked hard because we believe education is important,” he added. Their four children are doing well and he and Shirley now enjoy spending time with their eight grandchildren.

Asked what he will do in his retirement, Phillip says, “Spend more time with my family, and do more gardening – and of course, go fishing.”  However, in the next few weeks, he and Shirley plan to visit the west coast to look at the flowers.

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Phillip Williams and Shirley have lived in Strandfontein for many years, where they are members of St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church.  Phillip is a licensed Lay Minister and an Alpha leader. Once a month he takes Holy Communion to the sick where he uses his great God-given gift of listening. “You’d be surprised at how lonely people are, even though, as seniors, they live within a large extended family.” He has a passion for soccer and played the game all his life until his wife fell ill. He was an expert striker.

Shirley was also involved in Church life as a sacristan and Anglican Womens Fellowship member until her illness 10 years ago. She survived cancer, but then developed angina and lost her sight in one eye through a retinal detachment. Shirley still works in the soup kitchen very week. Phillip says, “Watching her moving around and doing her daily chores, you would never believe that she has so many health problems.”

Wishing Philllip and Shirley a healthy and happy retirement.

 

Jane Dickson on 021 782 0666 / 072 647 0537 or email bj.dickson@telkomsa.net