The funeral for the Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev Keith Jukes, took place today (Friday) in a packed Ripon Cathedral.
The service took place at 1.30pm following a gathering where visitors from far and wide joined Dean Keith’s family and the cathedral community for tea, cake and a chat.
Mourners included Ripon MP Julian Smith, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity, the chairman of North Yorkshire County Council and Ripon city Coun Bernard Bateman and the Mayor of Ripon Coun Mick Stanley, who was a pallbearer at the funeral.
Coun Bateman told the Gazette before the service: “The Dean has been a great strength to us in delivering for the city of Ripon.
“We are all very, very sad because of his departure from us.”
Coun Bateman added: “He’s done such a lot and that’s why he’s so much loved by everybody.”
Members of the public were invited to bring along a small stone to the service, to add to a cairn being built in the cathedral entrance.
As part of the funeral, Dean Keith’s daughter Laura read one of his favourite poems by RS Thomas, his wife Susanne read a passage from the Gospel of Luke and the Bishop of Knaresborough, the Rt Revd James Bell, introduced the service and read the opening prayer.
Bishop Bell also invited mourners to exchange a sign of peace by greeting a stranger with a hand shake and the words “may peace be with you” – a characteristic feature of Dean Keith’s services.
Talking of the Dean’s service tradition, Bishop Bell said: “There was a delightful spontaneity about Keith.”
Also speaking at the service, the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd John Packer, told mourners: “Today, Keith moves on in his pilgrimage.
“Our powers have been supported by Keith’s ministry, his generosity and his compassion.”
He added: “It’s wonderfully appropriate that this service takes place today as the buds appear.”
The Dean died suddenly at the age of 59 on Tuesday, May 21, hours after being admitted to Harrogate District Hospital.
Two days before he died, the married father-of-two had written an announcement to be read at Ripon Cathedral services.
In it he told the congregation he had been unwell and tests had revealed a growth in his upper abdomen – which doctors were convinced was cancerous.
The note concluded: “I am at home at the moment, feeling very weak and tired, but in good heart.
“I know that come what may, God is with me, and my life is in his hands.”