THE daughter of a much-loved former canon at Chichester Cathedral has paid tribute to a ‘remarkable’ man who ‘touched so many people’s lives’.
Frank Hawkins died on January 10 at the age of 78 after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011.
He lived in Chichester for more than 40 years with his loving wife Gillian and leaves behind three children and four grandchildren.
His daughter, Charlotte Hawkins, said: “Dad was remarkable, he took it all in his stride as he coped with his disease.
“I never saw him angry or frustrated despite it all – the family was full of admiration for the dignity he showed throughout.
“He always said he felt fortunate – MND can strike anyone, at any time.
“He was in his 70s and was grateful to have lived to see his children grow up.
“His concern was the impact on those around him – he insisted family life carry on as normal and we laughed and joked as we had always done.”
Liverpool-born canon Hawkins trained at Chichester Theological College and after living in the west country for a few years, returned to Chichester where he spent the majority of his career.
He was vicar at Sidlesham before becoming canon at Chichester Cathedral, and after retiring took on the position of Custos of St Mary’s Hospital Almshouses.
“Because of the work that he did, he touched so many people’s lives in the community,” said Charlotte, a presenter on ITV’s breakfast show Good Morning Britain who recently became a patron of the MND Association.
“We have had so many lovely letters, cards and messages of support from people from all walks of life who knew him or met him, saying how much he meant to them.
“We’ve been touched by the amount of people who have spoken of him in glorious terms which is lovely to hear.
“As a family we are so grateful to the many visitors who came on a regular basis to visit dad and keep him company, and also for all the support from the professional services involved in his care.”
Canon Hawkins was featured in the Observer series last July, speaking bravely about his condition and how lucky he felt to have such ‘immense support’ from his family, friends and neighbours.
His determination to raise awareness about MND saw him featured in the national press and on TV, and his inspirational story is due to be the focus of the BBC Radio 4 charity appeal this Sunday.