6 - Blessing of Ebenezer Mather's restored Grave
November 15th 2009
Margaret Payne (local historian) and I first spoke about the restoration of Mather’s grave in early 2008. We talked about the possibility of getting the grave restored and called in the Fishermen’s Mission and their local representative, Tim Jenkins, met me there in April 2008. It was not however until earlier this year that Margaret and I said something must be done and we set about contacting different local organisations to see if we could set things in motion. Our idea was to make it a community project, which I think has been achieved.
In April this year members from different local organisations got together and loosely formed ‘The Mather Grave Restoration Group’. Stibbards who were the original makers of the headstone gave us a quote for the cost of refurbishment. Money was raised by the Canvey Community Archive as a grant from The Town Council to cover part of the costs and Stibbards themselves generously agreed to cover the remaining 50% cost of the work. Some further donations from Mather’s family and members of the public were received.
It was on Sunday the 15th November 2009 at 2pm that we gathered together at St Anne’s Church, Leigh Beck, Canvey Island to hold the ‘Harvest of the Sea’ service. It was at the old St Anne’s Church, which was demolished in 1974, that during the time he lived on Canvey, Mather worshiped. After the battering of the storm on the Saturday, Sunday morning brought wonderful sunshine, which stayed with us all day. Members of the Canvey Community Archive were on hand to welcome guests and young Archive Volunteers gave out booklets giving a brief history of Ebenezer Mather’s life.
Dignitaries from all over Essex including members of Essex County, Castle Point and Canvey Town Council alongside Ian and Pauline Mather, (Great Grandson of Ebenezer Mather) members of St Anne’s congregation, Stibbards Funeral Directors, and Canvey Community Archive were lead in the service by The Rev Tim Hide from The Canvey Team Ministry, Superintendent Tim Jenkins and the Rev Andrew Wright, Chaplin of the Fishermen’s Mission. There was a Scripture reading by Martyn Yorworth, a local fisherman and The Pilot Psalm was read by Peter Catchpole, a Council Member of the Fishermen’s Mission.
Following the service we gathered again outside the church to bless the New Mobile Welfare Office which Superintendent Tim Jenkins uses to reach the many Fishermen across Suffolk and Norfolk as well as here in Essex.
We then made our way to the other end of the Island where the Old St Katherine’s Church stands (Now the Heritage Centre) to Ebenezer Mather’s refurbished grave for the blessing. Although the ground was very wet, the sun shone as we gathered at the graveside. The Headstone, which was covered, was unveiled by Ian Mather before The Rev Tim Hide conducted the blessing.
Last of all we gathered in the Heritage Centre where refreshments had kindly been provided and Tim Jenkins presented the Heritage Centre with the Fishermen’s Mission Flag.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of Margaret Payne (who unfortunately could not make it on the day) and myself to thank everyone who has contributed to the occasion and helped to make it a very congenial day – a true community project.