The Rev Fred Cordingley outside Birdbrook Church
After 12 happy years as rector of the parish of Birdbrook and Sturmer, the Rev. Fred Cordingley is retiring because of ill health. this 60-year-old Yorkshireman, however, will keep particularly fond memories of Birdbrook's church of St Augustine of Canterbury.
Lucky is the only way to describe Birdbrook church for in 1959, the year that Mr Cordingley took up residence, the church was left £40,000 by Mrs Edith Clara Young, the widow of a former rector. The annual income from that money - over £2,000 - has been wisely used by Mr. Cordingley and with £24,000 spent on it the church is a showpiece of Essex. Under Mr. Cordingley's supervision, the church has been completely renovated with new roof, central heating, the wooden spire reshingled, stained glass window installed, solid carved oak choir stalls and panelling constructed, the whole inerior redecorated and a new perimeter wall built. At present the old floor of the church is being ripped up and a new level tiled one laid down.
However, Mr Cordingley's work has not been confined to Birdbrook. He has carried out similar work on Sturmer church which is less fortunate, not having a large income, and the money had to be raised locally. Mr. Cordingley was born at Pudsey in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where many famous Yorkshire cricketers hail from - amont them Sir len Hutton - and he has inherited a love sport. That love is still with him although his health prevents his taking an active part, but he has been known to take a transistor radio to bed so as to hear the latest test scores from Australia! He was educated at Leeds and then went on to St Johns College, Durham, where as a brilliant scholar, he was awarded an exhibition. It was at St Johns that he was first associated with Dr Michael Ramsey, now Archbishop of Canterbury, an association that coincidence has maintained through the years.
Ordained at Manchester Cathedral in 1940, he went first to St Jame's at Salford then to All Saints, Maldon. This was his first taste of East Anglia and one he liked very much. After six years he returned once more to Yorkshire this time to St Johns, Bilsdale, in the North Riding. It was through Dr Ramsey, then Archbishop of York, that Mr Cordingley came to Birdbrook.
During his time in the village as well as renovating the church he has been closely associated with the parish council, the Community House committee and the gardening club, serving as chairman for all three in turn. By now an experienced commuter between Yorkshire and Essex, he is once more returning to his home county having had a bungalow built at Helmsley in North Yorkshire.