The Very Reverend Neil Collings
Dean Emeritus of St Edmundsbury
1946 - 2010
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of the Very Reverend Neil Collings, Dean of St Edmundsbury from 2006 to 2009. He died on Saturday 26 June in Devon where he had lived, since January 2010, close to his family, including his father and brother. He was 63.
Former Dean of St Edmundsbury (the senior priest of the Cathedral and Diocese), Neil retired in September 2009 due to ill health. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2008 and despite surgery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and the continued efforts of his medical team the cancer returned in recent months.
The funeral took place at Exeter Cathedral on Tuesday 6 July. People in Suffolk also gathered in St Edmundsbury Cathedral at the same time for a short time or prayer and remembrance. Many of the same prayers and hymns were used as were being used at the funeral eucharist in Exeter.
In the Cathedral on Sunday morning announcing Neil’s death, the Bishop, the Right Reverend Nigel Stock, said, ‘Neil won the hearts of many people for his prayerful faith and keen sense of humour. Although he will be greatly missed his ministry will continue in this place and everywhere where he was admired and loved.’
Neil was installed as Dean of St Edmundsbury on 16 September 2006, having previously been Canon Treasurer at Exeter Cathedral. Although Neil’s ministry at St Edmundsbury Cathedral was short, he brought to a conclusion the Millennium Project which has seen the Cathedral building develop and grow over recent years.
He was a man of great character, wit and wisdom who showed immense fortitude and spirit in the difficult months as he battled with illness.
Neil became a priest in 1971 and his rich ministry had a profound influence on the many people he served in a variety of places and positions. In the two years that he was Dean of St Edmundsbury he managed to visit all 478 parish churches in the Diocese.
A memorial service will be held at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in due course.
Neil Collings was Dean of Edmundsbury from 2006 to 2009. He had been a residentiary canon and Treasurer of Exeter Cathedral since 1999. Previously, he was Assistant Curate of Littleham cum Exmouth; Team Vicar in the Littleham cum Exmouth Team Ministry; First Chaplain of Westminster Abbey; Assistant Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons; Rector of St Nicholas’s, Hereford; Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Director of Post-Ordination Training, Diocese of Hereford; Chaplain to the Bishop of Hereford; and Rector of Harpenden.