Frank Varney 1869 - 1953 Lay Reader Extraordinary

It is a strange, somehow significant, fact that Frank Varney St Augustine's most celebrated layman and Father Douglas, arguably St Augustine's most celebrated Priest, both share the same Years' Mind. Frank Varney died on September 10th 1953 and Father Douglas followed him on September 10th 1960.

Frank Varney was made a Lay Reader in the last century and continued his ministry (and it was truly a ministry) into the latter half of this one.

There are no dramatic exciting stories about the sixty years he worshipped and worked at St Augustine's. They are all stories of quiet dedicated service ....... such as how he quite often walked from North Town to Seale and back (!) to say Evensong for a priestless Parish. My own memories of him are of a very small, gentle, grey haired man so short that only his silver grey hair showed above our Lectern. I strongly suspect that our Lectern's elevated platform was purpose built for Frank Varney it is certainly not part of the original Lectern design.

Week after week he read the Lesson from it for over six decades. Not in ringing, carefully enunciated tones but with a soft unpolished Southern accent that was pure North Town. To Frank Varney the Queen's English took second place to the Word of God.

There is a small bronze plaque to his memory on the pillar that flanks the Lectern he loved. It is as self effacing as he was but I like to think that Saint Augustine himself, stepped forward to greet him the day Frank Varney walked humbly into Heaven




Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest:
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labour and not to ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that we do Thy will

St. Ignatius Loyola, 1491 1556.

(This prayer was much used by Father Douglas and much loved by Frank Varney)