Reverend Canon John Ratings – Old Boy (1957 Leaver)
On leaving the Sixth Form in 1957 John completed two years of National Service before reading Theology at St Peter’s College, Oxford followed by two years at Cuddesdon Theological College. He served his first curacy at All Saints’ and Martyrs’ Langley in the Manchester diocese under the inspirational guidance of Canon Whitsey, followed by a second curacy at St Michaels’ in Easthampstead, Berkshire. He was selected to attend the Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Bossey near Geneva in 1969/70.
From 1971-2008 John was Vicar of Wargrave also in the Oxford diocese. In his book “Lost and Found in the Pulpit” he recalls with a mix of anecdotes, personal reflections and challenging ideas, a lifetime of service. Births, marriages and deaths were the stuff of his everyday ministry, but he was known throughout the area as someone who never passed an opportunity to be controversial and innovative.
John’s length of service made such controversies inevitable – whether it was selling off land earmarked for a graveyard or challenging the local British Legion about the way the annual Remembrance Day was marked. Yet he was everyone’s vicar, whether they attended church or not.
His greatest legacy was establishing the Wargrave Village Festival which grew from three days into a biennial bonanza lasting over two weeks encompassing over forty events. He had responsibilities for local schools and was involved in educational matters at diocesan level. In 2000 John was appointed Provost of Lancing of the Woodard Corporation (Southern Division). He valued his many years as a Senior Selector to the Bishop assessing prospective ordinands into the ministry.
He thoroughly enjoyed his time (1991/92) as Chaplain to Peter Theobald, Master of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors. In 2001 he was the guest of honour at the School Speech Day. On that occasion he gave the school a cheque for £135, the then equivalent of the 12 guineas given to him in 1957 by his Headmaster TJP York. Mr York was most surprised that he had gained a place at Oxford and been accepted for training as a priest as he had observed none of the qualities needed for either. John loved his school and all the opportunities thereafter.
Mrs Barbara Ratings