Wife of well-known minister pays tribute to her ‘best friend’

Eric Henry Ashmore Hayden
Eric Henry Ashmore Hayden

The widow of well-known minister Reverand Eric Henry Ashmore Hayden has paid tribute to her ‘best friend’ after he passed away last week.

He died peacefully, surrounded by family, on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at the age of 91.

Daphne, Eric’s wife for 66 years, said she felt ‘fortunate’ to have known him.

She said: “I’m trying not to be sentimental but we had 66 years of just a fantastic marriage.

“He was the easiest person to live with, never moody.

“He had such a lovely sense of humour which got us through some difficult situations.

“I was fortunate to be married to my best friend.”

Eric was born in Hove in 1926 and had two older brothers and one younger sister.

His mother died when he was five years old before his father, a master builder, remarried.

He was evacuated to Yorkshire in 1939 along with the other pupils at Varndean School, where he lived with a family who gave him a caring, loving home.

At 17, he enlisted in the Royal Navy and saw service in Northern Ireland, Ceylon and the Far East.

He met Daphne through a mutual relation and, after only four or five weekends together, he asked her to marry him and she said ‘yes’ on the spot.

They were married one year later in Aldershot Parish Church and started married life first in London and then in Aldershot.

He and Daphne had four children together – Brenda, Clive, Alyson and Ian

Eric’s business career spanned time in Kenya, Hong Kong and Japan, before he made the decision to return to the UK.

A few days after arriving, Eric made his way to Salisbury College for a two-year course designed for mature students, followed by ordination at Chichester Cathedral and serving his title as Deacon at Horsham Parish Church.

Through friends, he learned that Cuckfield was looking for a vicar so he was instituted in 1978 where he remained for the next 14 years before he decided to retire.

Daphne added: “I loved being married to Eric.

“We just brought the best out of each other.

“Everyone used to tell us that we were just a perfect team.

“Eric was always interested in people, he worked hard to establish St Catherines Hospice and so much of his life has involved fundraising.

“The last six years were very difficult as he got ill.

“Much could be written but he is now at rest after a full and active life.”