Canon Paul Goddard, 82, will be remembered with fondness everywhere his “long and wonderful life” took him, especially in the village of Polruan, Cornwall where, on 22 October, he died peacefully at home surrounded by his wife, Mary, and five of his six children.
The son of a clergyman, Paul was educated at Haileybury and Jesus College, Cambridge where, in 1942, he studied engineering under a RAF cadetship scheme.
The war having ended just after he completed his flying training in South Africa, Paul decided to follow his father into the Church. He returned to Jesus College to finish his degree and trained for the Priesthood at Westcott House.
His Ministry took him to Hertfordshire, New Zealand (where he was the first Ecumenical Chaplain to the University of Canterbury) and Dorset where, before retiring to Polruan in 1987, he spent eighteen years as Vicar of Sherborne.
In his retirement, he filled in for local clergy, sang in the Church choir and acted as Chaplain to the East Cornwall branch of the RAFA.
Paul loved people and his children remember every Vicarage in which they lived as being “full of people and laughter and with an ever open door”.
Although he took his calling seriously, it was laced with humour and a tremendous sense of fun. His younger son, Hamish, remembers how, as a typical teenager, he arrived down late for breakfast one Easter morning to find written on his egg: “Christ is Risen; Hamish isn’t!”
A wonderful raconteur with a God given talent – not to mention mission – to amuse, whatever subject came up, Paul would seize the opportunity to launch into one of his legendary stories.
There were childhood stories, school stories, ‘flying’ stories and, of course, ‘clerical’ stories such as the eccentric woman undertaker who, after a cremation, horrified Paul by returning to the refectory table, snatching a handful of ham sandwiches, slapping them on her head and, whispering “Vicar, I have your tea and mine”, leaving with them hidden under her black picture hat.
Then there was the pig he won at a fete which he insisted on having delivered to him live. With the pig safely housed in an old air raid shelter with a trough made out of coffin off-cuts, the local congregation were then invited to deposit their culinary failures in the bin marked PIG placed at the garden gate.
Paul christened the pig Abraham and the suppressed giggles from the congregation every time Abraham was mentioned became a source of puzzlement to a succession of visiting clergy.
Abraham was eventually humanely dispatched at the Letchworth Bacon Factory, Paul leaving twenty minutes later with a side of pork (a welcome addition to post-war rations), the other side being left to be turned into bacon.
There was scarcely a moment in his entire life when Paul, a talented carpenter, wasn’t making something. In his younger days there was a succession of Mirror Dinghies, Wayfarers and rowing boats and in his retirement, some exquisite dolls houses.
When his declining health and near blindness meant that it was no longer safe for him to handle his tools, he took to painting brightly coloured pictures instead in a style he referred to as “early primitive”.
“Adored by all” his Death Notice read – a fitting Epitaph to the most lovable of men.
© Church Times