Jeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they taJeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be with his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they take this painful and unexpected journey.

Autumn in Haldon Forest, nr ExeterI was thinking today that this was an autumn I wasn’t expecting to see. This time last year, I really thought the leaves would be falling and I wouldn’t be here to see either them or even the entire summer we’ve just had. The different perspective on life and living that it brings is noticeable. Relationships have deepened and various friendship ties that might have become loose have been strengthened. Priorities to which I might have paid little more than lip service, have become more plain, even urgent. It feels like a fresh flowering of life.

Educational aidsIn the middle of that flowering, we had wonderful news late Monday afternoon that following an interview, observed teaching and planning sessions, Catherine had been appointed as the permanent, full-time teacher in one of the Early Years Foundation Stage classes at the primary school in which she’s been working for the past year. It’s fifteen minutes drive from our new home. The joy was tangible as we stood hugging each other, both struggling with our emotions. It’s been an eight year journey for her to reach this point with no small number of knock backs – along with some encouragements – along the way. If Father’s timing is said to be perfect, here is another example. Just when I’ve stepped back from my regular paid employment and the need is there, so is God’s provision. Paul’s words to the Philippians show themselves true again as I read, “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”. Those answers might not come as quickly as I want; some prayer might remain apparently unanswered as Jesus has something better for us. But He hears and he acts. And so we pray on, holding our lives and our broken world – including fleeing, desperate Syrians,Iraqis and others – before Christ.    

Piano keyboardIt was a privilege to travel down to Plymouth some weeks ago, to be in a studio for a live recording session as one of Ben’s best friends, Samuel Chapple, laid down a number of piano tracks for an album, among them his arrangement of Amazing Grace, arranged, played and recorded as a tribute to Ben. I’ve included a link to it at the bottom of this page. When we find ourselves in a broken place, it’s a truly beautiful piece of music and we’re so grateful to Sam for this way of expressing his love and affection for his friend.

Ben & NigelBut just as I prepared to write and post this entry, I’ve learned of the death of a friend who was one of my closest during my teenage years, through my twenties and beyond. Nigel was, until illness overtook him last year, an associate professor in Sydney lecturing and researching neuromuscular diseases. He and I were at kindergarten together, lived in the same street for many years, attending Christ’s College, cycling to school together, both playing in the school orchestra (he was a great flautist), shared employment both as scrubs cutters and gorse sprayers in Pigeon Bay near Christchurch and then on a road gang installing road signs in Essex in 1989/90. He was my Best Man as I married Catherine. As well as sharing a surname (his with an added ‘e’), we shared many fun and memorable times. I’m only sorry that in recent years, because of the distance and, more latterly my own health, I’ve not been able to see him as much as I would have liked, but we had been in as much email contact as we could both manage in this last year. We had shared the irony of the fact that we were both now facing serious life threatening conditions having shared so many other things in life together. Sadly, both his chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment proved to be unsuccessful. I’ll miss him. The rather precious photo (click on it for a better view) shows him with Ben on his lap reading him a story at our home in Auckland in 1993. The bitter twist is that they’ve both left us in the same year. I’m filled with a fresh sense of sadness.

As I watch Sam play his rendition of Amazing Grace in tribute to Ben, I also think of Nigel. God’s amazing grace given through my constant companion, Jesus Christ, has given me so much for which to be thankful. It was grace that extended to both Ben and Nigel. They were a gift to me.

Sam has wonderfully included a short tribute/ascription to Ben at the end of the video. 

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Comments on: "A celebration, a loss and some soulful music" (24)

  1. Widge Stafford said:

    Dear Jeremy and Catherine
    So very pleased with your good news of the teaching job. Hope you are all settling into your new home,it sounds ideal. I don’t get down to Exeter much,but if I do, may I call in and see you? Please if ever you find yourselves in North Devon,we would love to see you. We are spending Christmas this year in Malta, where Katie is living, none of our children could make it us this year. We are so enjoying our home having downsized,the garden is such a joy. Tony has built me a wonderful sewing shack,which means we have a better looking spare room!
    You are All in in our thoughts and prayers, time is a great healer.
    Peace and love to you all

    Widge Xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Widge, it’s great to hear from you again. Thanks for your encouragement. Of course, please come in and see us when you are in Exeter. We’d love it. J

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  2. Yvonne Howarth said:

    Thank you Jeremy for your latest news.
    Rejoicing with you over the news of Catherine’s job. The children in her care will indeed be blest. My God will supply all my needs and way more besides!!!! Blessings all mine with 10,000 beside. Great is your faithfulness!
    As always Jeremy your writing has us, well me anyway excited to open up the page to see what God’s been up to in the Clark family and I wasn’t let down. You led me to think of precious times spent with you both over the past year, time spent wanting to shield some of your pain and time looking into both your eyes, wanting to take some of that pain for you, when one member suffer we all suffer, how true this is.
    Sad to hear of your dear friend Nigel’s passing, but tinged with a tiny smile at the thought of him being with dear Ben.
    Your reference to Autumn as you celebrate being here, made me think how none of us know for sure, if we will see a next Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter so life should be lived to the max, leaving nothing unsaid or undone that should be done and putting things right maybe with a person who we’ve lost touch with, over petty disagreements that in the grand scale of things is a pin head size problem, instead of the huge cloud we thought it was. Thank you Jeremy for making me stop and think and act accordingly.
    Much love to you all.
    Yvonne . Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jeremy – So pleased for you and Catherine re the job – as you say – God’s perfect timing! Love Sam’s video at the end of your blog – I wonder if the album will be for sale? I’d love to buy a copy if it was available. Still have such great memories of ‘breakfasting’ your kids a few years ago – great fun & great company!! See you soon.
    Love Joy x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ruth Prince said:

    Overwhelmingly moving written news,Jeremy, and no words can exaggerate the beauty of the unique rendering of Amazing Grace. Mega congratulations to Catherine, what a result,well deserved and very timely indeed. Your words are teaching many of us far, far more than you perhaps realise,Jeremy. Thank you so much Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucille Humble said:

    Your blogs are always so inspiring and we enjoy them so much. We share in your joy with Catherine’s new job! Praise God, He is so faithful. Thank you for touching so many others with the sharing of your journey. We will continue to pray for you and your family.
    Love and prayers,
    John and Lucille

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks both of you. As you know from your own experience, the crucible is never a comfortable place to be, but the comforter is there.

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  6. Dear Jeremy When I see you on my screen, I reach for the tissues, not in sadness but for the moving and inspirational writing you give us to read. Congratulations to Catherine on her success and yes, those children will be so blessed having her to guide and encourage them in their first steps in their education. The music was so beautiful from such a lovely young man and goose bumps remain long after it has finished. Glad to hear your news Jeremy and I use you as my inspiration when I have a moan about absolutely nothing at all!! Take care, stay well and enjoy this gorgeous Autumn.
    Best wishes
    Pat Cusa
    Church Warden, Clyst St Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Pat…it’s so good to have your ongoing support. Please send my love to the folk at Clyst St Mary.

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  7. Brian @ Maureen at Alphington. said:

    Good to hear from you again Jeremy. As others have said it brings tears to my eyes each time I read. As the Bible says the Lord works in mysterious ways. Good luck to Catherine in her new job how lucky those children will be. What an everlasting memory you have in the photo of your dear friend Nigel with your dear son Ben. They will be together in God’s house now.
    It amazes me how positive you both are about life and the future only your faith drives you on.
    Maureen and I watched the video and again had tears in our eyes what a talented musician Sam is.
    May God bless you, Catherine and the family all our love and prayers.

    Brian and Maureen at Alphington.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for this Brian and Maureen. That old quote, “The Lord moves in mysterious ways” was first penned by William Cowper in the 19th C and really reminds me of the words from Romans 11:33, where St Paul suddenly breaks into praise, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”.
      No matter what the circumstances, He is always good….and that goodness and support is often shown thr0ugh His people – like yourselves. So, thank you. J

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  8. Rob Vincent said:

    Wonderful tribute to your son. Beautiful. We are working on the hotel still! Not as easy as I thought. Keep writing. Thank you Lord for your provision – as the Bible often says “at the proper time”… not our time, just the “proper time” in God. Cheers Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Paul Ramsbottom said:

    Dear Jeremy,
    Once again thank you for another God given post, it is a real honour to know you. May this Autumn be extra special to you in remembering Gods glory through His wonderful creation. Every year Autumn brings an amazing display of colour, before leaves die and fall, leaving a carpet of colour. Whilst trees stand bare as cold winter storms pass through, we know that it is only a short time before creator God will bring new life in green shoots of Spring.
    Catherine’s new job is a wonderful example of God showing his love now. But we also know that there are times when we think of people, like Ben and Nigel, who have created amazing color that will never be forgotten, despite their early fall. For a short while there are cold winter storms to face. But we also know that Spring is just around the corner, when there will be dancing in heaven when we meet Ben and Nigel and enjoy the colours of new life, whilst remembering the vibrant colours of autumn left behind.
    Our love and prayers go with you, Catherine and the family.
    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Louise wilcox said:

    Dearest Jeremy,

    Thank you for your moving and heartfelt blog. You have been through such mixed emotions. We were absolutely delighted for Cathetine – a long deserved wait for the right job. So sorry to hear the loss of your close friend Nigel. Seeing the touching photograph of Ben and him makes me smile as I think of them together in heaven.
    Absolutely beautiful emotive music and fitting tribute to Ben from his friend Sam.
    Love always
    Louise xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louise, your and Matt’s love and support have been a part of God’s arms extended around us. Thank you.

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  11. Diane Fraser said:

    We rejoice with you both about Caherine’s job and the Father’s provision. We join you in thanking God that you are still with us and continue to pray for a continuing miracle. Your blogs are a constant inspiration to us – espcially when tempted to moan about inconsequential things that are not really important in God’s plans for both our lives and that of the Church. Sad to hear of your friend. We are present praying again for Paul’s brother David who has had a further cancer growth to the other side of his neck/throat after radium treatment (&appparent clearing) to the other side 4yrs ago. Our most fervant prayer is that he comes to know our Father and the saving grace of Jesus, so that what ever the end outcome he may know (as you so often told us) the best is yet to come

    The music by Sam is astoundingly beautiful and had me once again in tears – let us know if he brings out a CD we can purchase

    Love to you all Diane & Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Diane & Paul. Your ongoing support and prayer is great. That ‘the best is yet to come’ goes a long way to explain why St Paul, why modern day Iraqi, Syrian and other Christians in tough circumstances can face their persecutions with such fortitude and courage. As you already know and experience yourself, with Christ in us, there is nothing but nothing that can steal away our eternal inheritance in heaven, nothing that can separate us from our ultimate treasure, Christ. Heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ….breath-taking!

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  12. Gail Hayes said:

    Dear Jeremy and Catherine, have just, belatedly, listened to that amazing musical tribute to Ben. How inspirational and emotional and God given. God is Good and we rejoice with you re Catherine’s teaching appointment. All those children will be so Blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

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