Donations in memory of South Woodford vicar stolen from church just days after his funeral

Fr Robert Hampson was a keen motorcyclist. Photo: Ros Southern

Fr Robert Hampson was a keen motorcyclist. Photo: Ros Southern - Credit: Archant

Several hundred pounds is believed to have been taken from the safe of Holy Trinity Church in Hermon Hill just several days after after the funeral of former vicar Father Robert Hampson.

Father Robert Hampson, Jesse & Jude Anderson with Cromwell the dog & Alex the Tortoise

Father Robert Hampson, Jesse & Jude Anderson with Cromwell the dog & Alex the Tortoise - Credit: Archant

Donations made in memory of a South Woodford priest who died of cancer have been stolen from his church just days after his funeral.

Several hundred pounds is believed to have been taken from the safe of Holy Trinity Church in Hermon Hill less than a week after the funeral of former vicar Father Robert Hampson, at which friends, family, worshippers, dog walkers and street sweepers all made contributions to charity in his memory.

Known affectionately as Father - an unconventional title for an Anglican vicar - Fr Hampson died on Sunday, May 6 at the age of 59 and his funeral was held at his former church on Wednesday, May 23.

The break-in was reported to the police on Thursday, May 31 and is believed to have taken place between Sunday, May 27 and Wednesday, May 30.

Father Robert Hampson with his dog Cromwell at a service in 2012. Photo: Steve Poston

Father Robert Hampson with his dog Cromwell at a service in 2012. Photo: Steve Poston - Credit: Archant


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Church warden, Ken Watling, 73 told the Recorder that he was away on holiday at the time, but could not believe how someone could do this to anybody.

He said: “It’s been a terrible shock to everybody.

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“Especially with somebody so well loved.”

He said that the money had been left in the church safe before it was going to be counted and handed over to charity.

Fr Robert Hampson was a keen motorcyclist. Photo: Ros Southern

Fr Robert Hampson was a keen motorcyclist. Photo: Ros Southern - Credit: Archant

Fr Hampson’s widow, Florence, 52, said that he “there wasn’t much we could do” after hearing the news that somebody had broken into the church safe.

She said: “It’s so unfortunate.

“Not much can be said about what can be done.

“The person can’t be right in their mind that did this.

“It’s quite sad.

“It’s the last thing that I’ve been thinking of, I’ve been grieving and somebody brought it to my attention last week but I just didn’t really know what to say.

“I was told that there was several hundred pounds that had been donated after the funeral.”

She described Fr Hampson as her “best friend” and her “everything” after he died following a battle with kidney and bone cancer.

Diagnosed in 2013, his illness did not stop him from continuing to lead services from his wheelchair.

A member of the church who wished to remain anonymous said: “It is disgusting.

“I can’t believe somebody would take a dead mans money. “I hope that now whoever did it knows what the money is for that they give it back.

“I was a good friends of Fr Hampson and he was a lovely man, I am just in shock and can’t believe somebody would do this.”

Father Robert Hampson’s close friend Rabbi David Hulbert, of the East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, said: “It’s terrible that people steal money, especially as he dedicated his life to a holy purpose”

“But Father Hampson’s loss is far greater than the pounds.

“Pounds are replaceable but Fr Hampson is not.”

Councillor Linda Huggett, of nearby Monkhams Ward knew Fr Hampson and said: “It’s shocking that someone would stoop so low.

“He was at the heart of the community, and there are no words to describe how I feel about it.”

Hundreds of people turned up to Fr Hampson’s funeral just a few weeks ago, and travelled from as far as France and Israel, while others called from Palestine and Canada to offer their condolences.

Fr Hampson founded community group the East London Three Faiths Forum with his close friends Rabbi David Hulbert, of East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, and Dr Mohammed Fahim, of South Woodford Mosque.

The Met Police said that no arrests had been made and enquiries are ongoing.

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