Obituary: The Rev Alan Ecclestone

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The Independent Online
I WAS A C2 worker in 1961 when I began WEA classes with Alan Ecclestone, writes Jack Brown (further to the obituary by the Very Rev Alan Webster, 16 December). He used English literature as an introduction to social history and his delight in the former illuminated his bleak anecdotes of personal experience.

Recalling his time in Frizington, he stated firmly that he had conducted burials of parishioners whose death certificates claimed they had died from various causes, but: 'They died of starvation; I watched them starve.'

Those experiences brought him to a cold and draughty classroom in Barnsley where he began the process of redeeming a deeply embittered miner's son whose hatreds were rooted in the same TB and poverty.

Who can say what is the effect of one self-effacing man on history? Yet I am sure his Popular Catholicism, his leading of his church into the world of work and his brand of Communism, Gramscian and rooted like Gramsci's in Peguy, were simply visionary. We shall catch up slowly. He taught well.