An Appreciation by Margaret Mackensie

GEORGE JAGER 1910-1992

Why should I, a non-Anglican and infrequent church attender, be writing George's obituary? Years ago, while he was our Vicar, I read a lesson at a Carol service. He introduced me as "the black sheep he was proud to call his friend!" He was, unconditionally, my very good friend.

Memories crowd in and must be selected if I'm not to take up the whole "News" edition. The "News" exists primarily because of him. He was our first editor, scrupulously fulfilling the non-denominational order laid upon our editors, and a great wielder of a pepper-pot of exclamation marks "because they break up the words".

We do so easily forget what people leave behind for us when they move from the village. How many young mums watching their toddlers enjoying themselves in the village hall each week realise that their activities grew from a small group of isolated young mothers meeting in the Vicarage, then into the Chapel when more space was needed and eventually in the Hall?

If you appreciate what the summer play scheme tries to do for older children you should remember that this developed from a series of meetings in Lent. Either George or Margaret or both decided that the group should 'do' as well as 'talk'. It has much changed since those days but the principle of providing pleasurable activities for children in the long summer holidays is unaltered.

I see George in Brownies, making earnest grown-up conversation with apprehensive little girls being tested for their 'Hostess' badge. I see George under a tree in the Vicarage garden cooking sausages on a barbecue in the POURING RAIN so we could raise money - and we did - for the playscheme. I see George at Youth Club - he rarely missed a week - drinking coke with the best of them. They will remember that. I found it difficult to believe he really enjoyed coke but he was adamant that he did. I see George playing a crafty game of Scrabble. I see George in school. I see George stretched full length on a pew at the last Son and Lumiere show in church and JUST waking up in time to say his bit. I see George everywhere enjoying, helping, laughing with, encouraging, comforting people. At a time when the southern end of the village was new and isolated, with the old and new sections of our community full of suspicion of each other, he built bridges that still stand.

He loved to demolish bureaucratic officials. It was he who speeded up the planning approval for the school swimming pool. The application was drowning in red tape. He battled with another set of planners so that Margaret Lewis' caravan remained on the Glebe. There is a legend that he told those planners he'd enjoy front-page 'Guardian' headlines and catching up with his reading in prison if they prosecuted. They didn't, of course.

George wasn't interested in whether we were Anglican, Catholic, Baptist - or nothing. In the best tradition of the established church he had a care for us all. Those, of us who knew him are the better for that. I do what I now try to do because of him.

We extend our sympathy to Margaret and their children but all of us know in our hearts that all the bells in heaven haven't stopped ringing since April 13th.

M.M from the Sutton Courtenay News June 1992