Obituary: Church groundskeeper and former coal man

Surrey Comet: Obituary: Church groundskeeper and former coal man Obituary: Church groundskeeper and former coal man

The family of a volunteer groundskeeper at St Paul’s Church in Hook found out he had helped win a Kingston in Bloom award on the day of his funeral, writes Jon Sharman.

Philip Stickley, who tended the church grounds for 10 years, died at home in September, aged 84.

His nephew, Graham Baughan, said: “He grew up on the family farm in Hook Road. They used to have farms and so on in the area and had a haulage business, working for Surbiton Council.

“He had his own coal merchants at Bankfield.

“He was well-known in the area for taking a horse and cart around – it was for the coal business, and eventually a lorry as well.

“He was a local lad – never married, never went out of the area, rarely went on holidays really – but a family person and interested in family history.”

The Stickley family goes back five generations in the Hook area.

Mr Stickley’s grand-niece Jennifer Pennells said his devotion to the church garden was “unfaltering”.

After his funeral service, the parish administrator returned to the church office to find a letter confirming the garden’s winning status in the Kingston in Bloom competition.

Mr Baughan said: “Because a lot of the family are buried at St Paul’s Hook he was volunteering at the church with my other uncle to maintain the church grounds. It was a fitting tribute. We didn’t know at the time.

“He had a lovely garden at [his home in] Ashcroft Road, which he maintained.”

Born in 1928, Mr Stickley was one of 10 children. His funeral took place at St Paul’s Church in October.

His family bought a variety of rose it has named the Stickley, and planted it at the church in his memory.

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