Obituary: Sir Alexander Ross

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The Independent Online
ALEXANDER ROSS, in addition to his services to the City and the Commonwealth, was much respected at St Paul's Cathedral, to which he had been drawn by a fellow New Zealander, Martin Sullivan, Dean from 1967 to 1978, writes the Very Rev Alan Webster (further to the obituary by RC Wheeler-Bennett, 20 April). In 1980 he became the first Chairman of the Court of Advisers, men and women from the political, financial, legal and artistic worlds meeting quarterly to give energy and thought to the role of St Paul's as a centre of prayer, worship, witness and music.

He believed the lay voice needed to be heard. He chose the name 'Court of Advisers' to make clear that while executive control resided in the Dean and Chapter, the Cathedral was sensitive to the vision and insights of lay people.

He had a refreshing sense of humour. Preparing a television programme to be broadcast on 1 April, he led a discussion on an alleged planning proposal that easy access between Westminster and the Bank of England for the cars of the important required the straightening of the bend at the top of Ludgate Hill and the removal of St Paul's to another site. He began the programme with a protest that religion was needed in the City and that St Paul's should not be shifted, even to smooth out the traffic problems of statesmen and financiers.

The programme went on to suggest new locations for St Paul's if the authorities insisted on the move. Proposals canvassed were: the Isle of Dogs (nice people), Regent's Park (easy parking), or Hampstead Heath (good views and fresh air). Sir Alexander used to chuckle over the furious letters of protest from those who had failed to notice the date.