Obituary: Rev Clifford Hughes, 77

Rev Clifford Hughes at St Mary's in Haddington. Picture: Neil Hanna
Rev Clifford Hughes at St Mary's in Haddington. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A REVEREND who helped raise £50,000 to replace historic church bells stolen during the siege of Haddington in the 16th century has died at the age of 77.

Rev Clifford Hughes, who boasted three distinguished careers in his lifetime, died on Christmas Day following a battle with illness.

He had been diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and following radiotherapy and an operation he lost the use of his voice.

Helped by devoted wife Kathleen, he devised a unique way of communicating and enjoyed climbing Lomond Hills as well as walking and cycling in France.

Born to Welsh parents in Newport in 1936, Mr Hughes lived the majority of his life in Scotland, particularly East Lothian.

As a boy he sang soprano in the Southwark Cathedral Choir.

His musical talent saw him become a choral scholar with the prestigious Chapel Choir of King’s College, with whom he sang to Second World War refugees in Austria.

He was once described as being Scotland’s foremost lyric tenor, when he performed at the 1974 Fringe Festival.

Rev Hughes was educated at Dulwich College in London and went on to study at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1959.

He described his time at Cambridge during the 1950s as “boisterous” and this was where he was influenced by Rev John Stott, who paved the way for a life as a Christian minister.

Moving to Scotland in the 1960s, he initially started out as a freelance singer but also underwent educational training at Moray House College in Edinburgh.

Following a spell as headmaster and teaching fellow at Beaconhurst Grange Preparatory School in Bridge of Allen, Mr Hughes took up the role as headmaster of Loretto Junior School in Musselburgh in 1975.

He left this role 13 years later, and decided to train for the ministry of the Church of Scotland at New College Edinburgh.

In 1992 he began training as a probationer minister at St Mary’s Church in Haddington.

A few months later in October that same year, the minister of St Mary’s, Rev Alasdair MacDonell retired. Mr Hughes stayed on at the church and, in a somewhat controversial move given his lack of experience, was appointed minister. The controversy proved unfounded, however, as Rev Hughes became a very popular and capable minister throughout his nine-year stay.

He played a crucial role in a fundraising campaign to raise £50,000 to install long-missing church bells in time for the millennium – the originals having been stolen during the siege of Haddington in 1547.

Mr Hughes is survived by his wife Kathleen, whom he married in 1965, and his children – son Richard and daughter Clare.