Derek Shearing, in his own words

By Lynda Manning

Derek Shearing as a young man
1944 School report

In July 2017, Derek Shearing passed away. His friend Pat Martin, knowing how
active he had been in the local community, thought that some of his memorabilia
might be of interest to local historians and simultaneously serve as a lasting tribute to
The extract below is from The Parish Magazine of St Peter’s, Thundersley and St
Michael and All Angels’, Daws Heath, May 2011. It is published with the consent of
the current Priest-In-Charge at St Peter’s – Rev Andy Hudson.
In 2011, Derek wrote:
I have now been a member of St Peter’s Church for over 80 years, having been
baptised in March 1931 by the Revd Maley.
I started Sunday School in 1936 which was held in the Church Hall at the top of
Church Road, an old double hall with a corrugated roof. When it rained heavily the
noise on the roof drowned out all conversation. The halls were run by an elderly
couple – Mr and Mrs Gaskell, who lived ‘on site’. Each year we went on a Summer
Outing, alternating between Maldon and Mersea Island.
After several years attending Sunday School, I joined the Youth Club. We had a
football team in the Southend Youth League and played on St Michael’s Church
Field. Each match day we put up and removed the goal posts and marked out the
I joined the choir in 1939 (my father was Organist and Choirmaster for 16 years) and
special music was sung at the Festivals of Easter, Harvest and Christmas. Many a
night was spent at home with my father accompanying the soloists on our small
harmonium as they practised ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ etc. The choir was
about 30 strong and consisted of trebles, contraltos, tenors and bass. At festivals,
the choir was enlarged by help from St Michael’s choir.
Prior to joining the choir, I pumped the organ. To do this, one had to clamber over
the organ into a very confined space with a small window. On wedding days
someone had to volunteer to wait at the church gate until the bride arrived, then run
and tap on the small window so that my father would know when to start playing the
Bridal March.
At the age of 13,  I became a Server. There was a very large holly bush near the
vestry (now the John Pond Room), and it was the custom for all new servers to be
picked up by the other servers and thrown into the holly bush….quite a painful
Every year after the All Hallows Guild of Servers Renewal Service the Revd Maley
called us to a meeting and woe betide anyone who did not attend. We also had St
George’s Church as part of the Parish, and I remember cycling down Church Hill on
winter mornings to serve at St George’s covered in white frost.
From 1963 until my retirement I was responsible for training all the new servers,
some of whom have gone on to reach quite high positions in their lives. It was a
great privilege and honour to be the first person to be authorised to administer the
Sacraments at Holy Communion. Also, in 1963 on the death of our Secretary (Eddie
Boorer) I was appointed Secretary and Sacristan. After 60 years as a server I retired
and now regularly attend the 8.00am service.

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