Hundreds of mourners packed into Kingston church to say their final farewells to a popular parish priest.
The Rev Robert Watton died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 59 just months after taking early retirement.
His eldest daughter Hannah, 20, said: “The church was full and people were standing out in the rain. We were really happy lots of people came as it makes you realise how much of an effect he had.”
Mr Watton spent 13 years as rector of the Parishes of the Purbeck Hills and was chairman of governors for St George’s First School at Langton Matravers. Up to 100 paintings by the school’s children, aged two to eight, were placed on display inside St James’s Church for his funeral. He retired for health reasons in October 2003 and at his new home near Exeter he had been enjoying walks on Dartmoor.
Churchwarden Don Pratt, who worked with Mr Watton for 11 years, said: “The news came as a shock, especially as Robert had been enjoying his retirement. Everyone was saddened and all send their condolences to Robert’s family, including his daughters Hannah, Jess, Susie and grandson Joshua. Robert was a faithful priest and touched the hearts of many by his care and ministry at baptisms, weddings and funerals. He will be long remembered in the villages, and with tourists through the popular summer services he developed at St Aldhelm’s Chapel.”
His funeral service was conducted by long-standing friends Canon Humphry York and Father Kenneth Noakes.
Bournemouth Echo, Thursday 19 August 2004