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.