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The Right Reverend Robert Maynard Hardy CBE (Bishop Bob) (1936–2021)

Bishop Bob

When I became a trustee of the Spiritual Counsel Trust (SCT), Bishop Dennis Hawker, then Bishop of Grantham, was soon to retire. I can still remember the words he used telling the trustees that he had been speaking with the new Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Hardy, about the work of the trust, and Bishop Bob had said to him that it “sounds like just the sort of thing I’d like to get involved with.” So, in 1987 Bishop Bob (as he liked to be known) became our chairman, and our trustees’ meetings were from then on held at The Bishop’s House, just across the road from the Cathedral. Bob indeed revealed a lively interest in spiritual direction and the tradition of Reginald Somerset Ward, (RSW). David Smith, a priest in Lincoln Diocese who had taken early retirement from parish ministry, was then full-time warden.

Bob’s gracious hospitality made the trustees feel very much at home at meetings in the Bishops House, and they were always followed by a lovely lunch which Bob served to us himself. Bob’s humility and warmth, and his keen interest in spiritual direction were a great encouragement. Under his leadership, we reflected upon the future of the trust, and he was instrumental in facilitating a couple of day conferences at nearby Edward King House next to the Cathedral, to which Norman Goodacre, which the SCT had been originally formed to support, and several longstanding “directees” who had benefited from the ministry for many years were also invited. A result of these meetings and the recognised need to find a warden well-qualified in spiritual direction as David Smith’s successor, was our meeting Henry Morgan. It was under Bob’s chairmanship that Henry became our new warden – a move that led after Bob’s retirement, to a merger of the SCT with the Annunciation Trust, which began under Bishop Jack Nicholl’s chairmanship in 2005.

We are grateful for Bishop Bob’s skilful and loving involvement over more than a decade, at a key time in the development of this valuable ministry. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Ian Walters

3 Comments

  1. Alice Nunn

    I only met Bishop Bob once, but it was a rather significant meeting…..I was one of the last Incumbents to be installed by him in my Parish of Winterton North Lincs, very shortly before he retired as Bishop of Lincoln.
    I remember how he put me at ease and seemed make what was a very slightly “scary” experience fell relaxed and good. Clearly many of the parishioners knew & appreciated him too.

  2. Mary Dawson

    Like Alice I was installed to my parishes by Bob the (People) Builder. He was a wonderful man, a wise and kind Bishop, a person of prayer and a shining Christian. He put me in touch with the Trust and he always made me feel that he cared about me not just as a Bishop caring for an incumbent but as a fellow Christian sharing the Christian journey.

  3. Henry Morgan

    I shall always be greatly indebted to Bishop Bob, he was extraordinarily kind and generous to me. At a time when a freelance spiritual director was a rare creature, he understood and valued the role that spiritual direction could play in a way that few Bishops seemed to.

    I came to know him as a warm, friendly, approachable, human, affirming, and encouraging man. One with a pastoral heart, a sense of vision & a commitment to the church’s active role in society. He quite restored my faith in Bishops.

    I met him when he was chair of the Spiritual Council Trust, and I became a new trustee along with Jan Shelby and Alison Froggatt. A year later I became the new Warden on a paid part-time basis. Bishop Bob was enormously supportive of me, encouraging me to take on all sorts of initiatives in my role as Warden.

    As a result I began visiting both Lincon and Bradford Dioceses to offer spiritual direction. I got involved in Soul Space at Greenbelt. I set up support groups for spiritual directors. I accepted an invitation to travel to Finland to support the infant ministry of spiritual direction there, and I was able to become a member of the new Spiritual Directors in Europe encouraging the ministry across the continent. None of that would have been possible without his active support & encouragement.

    When retirement approached he persuaded Jack Nicholls Bishop of Sheffield to be the new SCT Chair, an inspired move. With the passage of time Bishop Jack oversaw SCT’s merging with The AnnunciationTrust., bringing Ian Walters as a new Trustee & then our Treasurer.

    Henry Morgan

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