Obituary: Rev Canon Roger MacPhee, of Knapton - priest and science teacher

Rev Canon Roger MacPhee. Picture: PAUL DAMEN

Rev Canon Roger MacPhee. Picture: PAUL DAMEN - Credit: Archant

Priest, teacher, singer and cook - Roger MacPhee was known and admired by thousands in many walks of life.

Rev Canon MacPhee, who has died, aged 71, after a two-year illness, first came to Norfolk in 1971 when he took up a post as head of chemistry at the former Paston Grammar School in North Walsham.

He was later appointed head of science when the school became Paston Sixth Form College.

Born in Oldham in 1943, Canon MacPhee never knew his pilot officer father who was shot down and killed over Berlin in 1945.

He gained a degree in chemistry at Leeds University and a post graduate certificate of education at Exeter, and first taught at Launceston College, in Cornwall.


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A keen mountaineer, he was climbing in the Pyrenees when he found his vocation.

'As he looked at the glory around him he realised that he wanted to become a priest,' according to his good friend Jill Emms.

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He was ordained as a deacon in 1986 and became a non-stipendiary priest the following year, overseeing Knapton parish, where he lived.

In 2003 he became an honorary canon of Norwich Cathedral. The Bishop of Norwich led his funeral, in Knapton Church, which was attended by more than 300 people, including the Bishop of Lynn and Rev Canon Leo Osborn, former president of the Methodist Conference.

Over the years Canon MacPhee conducted many wedding services of former students and Facebook comments from some after his death included: 'A fine, brilliant teacher. If it were not for him, I would never have gone on to a career in science.' Another wrote: 'Inspiring, generous - one of the good guys. A top man.'

Canon MacPhee, who retired from teaching in 2003, loved singing and belonged to the Sheringham and Cromer Choral Society and Nonsuch Singers.

He was a keen football fan and a Norwich City FC season ticket holder, although he also supported his native team, Blackburn Rovers.

He turned his chemical knowledge to cookery and was known for his jars of marmalade and jams. Canon MacPhee is survived by his younger brother, Duncan, nieces and a nephew.

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