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Tributes to a 'wise and valued vicar'

PUBLISHED: 09:09 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:07 03 July 2010

Friends and colleagues yesterday paid tribute to a “wise and valued” vicar who died suddenly last week, aged 52.

The Rev Roger Kent, rector of Somerleyton, near Lowestoft, died on Thursday, less than two weeks after officiating at the wedding of Lord Somerleyton's son and heir, the Hon Hugh Crossley, to Lara Bailey.

Friends and colleagues yesterday paid tribute to a “wise and valued” vicar who died suddenly last week, aged 52.

The Rev Roger Kent, rector of Somerleyton, near Lowestoft, died on Thursday, less than two weeks after officiating at the wedding of Lord Somerleyton's son and heir, the Hon Hugh Crossley, to Lara Bailey.

He had been working at his computer at home when he suffered a massive heart attack.

Mr Kent was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1956 but his father was from Czechoslovakia. When he was a year old, the family moved to Gorleston.

He studied at the University of Kent in Canterbury, where he graduated in theology, and he trained for the priesthood at St Stephen's House in Oxford.

He was ordained in 1982 and served as a curate at All Hallows Church in Ipswich before moving to London's East End until 1988.

In 1995 he returned to his Czechoslovakian roots and moved to Prague to be chaplain of the English-speaking congregation. During his time in Prague he met the late Pope John Paul II.

He had planned to take a sabbatical to Prague this autumn and hoped to take an intensive Czech language course at the city's Charles University.

He returned to the UK and in 1999 was invited to serve as team vicar in Cullercoats, near Newcastle. From there he moved to become rector of Somerleyton, Ashby, Herringfleet, Fritton, Blundeston and Lound in 2004. He celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a priest in Somerleyton on July 4, 2007.

The Rev Leslie Hobbs said yesterday: “He was well regarded within the parishes, where the feeling of loss is palpable. He had a facility for creating a sense of worship at church services.

“He had involved himself to a considerable degree in the life of primary schools at Blundeston and Somerleyton and already many people have spoken of how much they liked and respected him.”

The Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev David Atkinson, said: “We were all deeply saddened by the news of Roger's sudden and unexpected death. He has been a wise pastor, a valued colleague and a good friend to many people in the Somerleyton group of parishes and more widely, and we will miss him very much.”

> The funeral will take place at St John the Baptist Church, Lound, on Monday, March 9 at 10am, followed by burial in the churchyard.

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