Hundreds bid farewell to a friend and an inspiration

A PARISH church was filled with hundreds of mourners on Tuesday, as friends and family turned out in force to say goodbye to their much-loved vicar following her death earlier this month, aged 63.

Every pew in St Lawrence’s in Warkworth was occupied for the funeral of Rev Canon Janet Brearley, who passed away on February 1 following an illness. Most in the congregation sported a piece of pink clothing as a mark of respect to the popular priest.

The service was conducted by Rev Margaret Hobrough, while the address was given by the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Martin Wharton.

He spoke in glowing terms about Janet and her ministry, which began with her appointment as curate of Prudhoe in 1990, followed by a similar role at St James and St Basil at Fenham until 1995, when she was finally ordained as parish priest and moved to Warkworth and Acklington, where she remained until her death.

In addition, Janet served as chaplain to the Mothers’ Union, Area Dean of Alnwick, was a member of the Bishop’s Council, chairman of the Diocesan Liturgy Committee and a vocations adviser.

Bishop Martin said: “Several people have used the word ‘grace’, Janet was gracious. There was a graciousness about her.

“She was our friend and an inspiration. We appreciated her guidance, her warmth and her lovely sense of humour, as well as her marvellous way with people.

“So we’re rightly gathered today to offer our act of thanksgiving to God for Janet – for this truly gracious human being. For her life, for her faith, for her fun. For all that she means deep down for every one of us. And we all have our treasured memories of her.”

Her husband Richard gave a moving and often humorous eulogy, recounting the first time they met at a church amateur dramatics group in Leeds. The couple went on to have two children and four grandchildren.

Hymns sung at the service included All my Hope on God is Founded, The Church’s One Foundation and Thine be the Glory, while the choir sang Janet’s favourite, Like a Candle Flame. Throughout, her coffin was draped with a cope, or ceremonial vestment, which had been gifted to her by Rev Canon John Jameson as a mark of his love and esteem for her ministry.

Following her funeral, Janet was cremated at Blyth while many of the congregation gathered at the village Memorial Hall for refreshments.