Obituary: Canon Brian Hardy, former Dean of the Diocese of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church

Canon Brian Hardy ' a talented linguist and musician as well as a dedicated and caring parish priest ' has died at the age of 88
Canon Brian Hardy ' a talented linguist and musician as well as a dedicated and caring parish priest ' has died at the age of 88
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Canon Brian Hardy, clergyman. Born: 3 July 1931, in Heanor, Derbyshire. Died: 16 November 2019 in Edinburgh, aged 88.

Canon Brian ­Hardy, former Dean of the Diocese of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church and, alongside the Reverend James Maitland of the Church of Scotland, a founding member of the ­Livingston New Town ­Ecumenical Ministry, died peacefully in the Western ­General Hospital on 16th November 2019.

Brian Hardy was born in 1931 in Heanor, Derbyshire, where his father was minister of Heanor Baptist Church.

Though Brian became a member of the Anglican Church while a student at Oxford in the 1950s, his ­admiration for and devotion to his father never ­varied throughout his life, and it was probably from him that he inherited the gentle modesty that was such a marked aspect of his character.

After seven years at City Boys Grammar school in Leicester, Brian spent his two years of National Service as a Sergeant in the Army Education Corps, where he served his time in and began his long love affair with the German language and the German Lutheran Church.

His love of Germany became an enduring attachment and for the rest of his life he ­visited it regularly, usually getting there on his beloved long-distance bike. His last visit to Germany was in May this year where he became ill – he died a couple of hours after seeing two friends from Germany who had come to see how he was.

After National Service there came four years at St John’s College, Oxford, where he studied French and German, as well as fitting in a diploma in theology, a hint of what was to come when he started training for the ministry of the Church of England at Westcott House in Cambridge, where the ­principal was Kenneth Carey, later to become Bishop of Edinburgh and a continuing influence on Brian’s life.

Ordained in 1957, Brian served a curacy in Rugeley, ­followed by four years as ­chaplain of Downing College, Cambridge. It was from ­Cambridge that ­Kenneth Carey, now installed in ­Edinburgh, lured him to that pioneering ministry in Livingston.

Apart from four years in ­Telford New Town from 1974 to 1978, the rest of Brian’s life and ministry were spent in Scotland.

There were four years as chaplain in Coates Hall ­Theological College – now St Mary’s Music School – in the west end of Edinburgh, ­followed by nine years as ­rector of St Columba’s-by-the-Castle. It was while he was at St Columba’s that he also served as Dean of the Diocese from 1986 to 1991. His last charge was in All Saints, St Andrews, from which he retired from full-time ministry in 1996, and returned to spend his last years in Edinburgh, bringing his much-travelled bicycle with him.

As well as being an outstanding linguist, a considerable theologian with a special interest in liturgy, and a dedicated and caring parish priest and counsellor, Brian Hardy was a gifted musician. A fine pianist and organist, he also possessed a pitch-perfect ­singing voice.

In a more assertive or ­egotistical personality, this constellation of talents might have been overwhelming to lesser mortals. In Brian Hardy they came packed into a personality so modest and kind, that it was easy to overlook what a formidably endowed human being he was.

Richard Holloway