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‘Pirate of God’ dies after long battle with cancer

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

Lesley de Pomerai

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AN eyepatch-wearing vicar who described herself as ‘a pirate for God’ has died aged 52 after a 28-year battle with cancer.

Lesley de Pomerai, rector of the benefice of Croxall, Linton with Castle Gresley, Rosliston and Walton-on-Trent, died peacefully in her sleep at Walton Rectory, her husband, David, by her side.

“She was a pirate for God, helping find their buried treasure,” said their only child, Lauren Pinkney, a 21-year-old Christian youth work student at the University of Chester.

“She was so inspirational to people both through her ministry, in what she did practically for people, in all she was and in what she had been through.” Born in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 8, 1960, Reverend de Pomerai was the only child of the late Robert Routledge, who served in the air force, and his wife, Marian, now 87, an ex-Second World War codebreaker.

Her childhood was spent in Alton in Staffordshire, Cyprus, Scotland, High Wycombe, Lincolnshire and Nottingham, where she attended grammar school before joining Severn Trent Water as a management trainee.

After seven years at the firm, during which she met her husband during a silent retreat at Mount St Bernard’s Abbey, near Coalville, Rev de Pomerai ‘felt God calling’ and worked for two years as an assistant warden in Nottingham.

She then completed a theology degree at the city’s St John’s College, a course which saw her work in the slums of Ugandan capital Kampala, before being ordained in 1992 at Southwell Minister.

Following four years at a curacy in Sutton- in-Ashfield, Rev de Pomerai worked as a team vicar in Clifton, Nottingham, for six years, taking her final posting in 2002.

Courageous, single-minded and creative, she enjoyed travel, photography, music and dance.

Diagnosed with salivary adenocarcinoma in 1984, Rev de Pomerai underwent her first operation months later and major surgery in 1992, during which she lost her left eye.

Two years ago she spent three months in Germany undergoing a new form of radiotherapy and later appeared to be recovering well only for doctors to discover her cancer had spread and was untreatable.

Rev de Pomerai died on Monday, having previously overcome at least two terminal diagnoses.

Her husband, a 61-year-old associate professor of biology at Nottingham University, said: “It’s going to leave an immense gap in our lives. She’s been the centre of mine for the last 28 years.”

After a wake at noon next Thursday at Catton Hall, Rev de Pomerai’s funeral will take place at 2.30pm at Derby Cathedral.

She will then be interred at Alton’s parish cemetery.

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