Tribute to Canaries fan and St Paul’s Cathedral treasure
The funeral of one of Norwich City oldest fans, 101-year-old Maurice Sills, has taken place at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where Maurice was a devoted volunteer for the last 40+ years.
Maurice, who followed Norwich City for over 40 years, passed away on June 25, just a few weeks before his 102nd birthday, and his funeral service took place under the Dome at the Cathedral on Tuesday (July 11).
Maurice was a volunteer at the Cathedral since the 1970s and even well past his century he remained one of the most active people at the Cathedral, coming in by Tube most days from north London, and spending most of his time at the Cathedral School where he would read to the youngest pupils.
He was also the Cathedral's 'go-to' proof-reader, casting his eye over orders of service to pick up any errors in copy.
A former teacher, Maurice remained passionate about education but also had a great love of sport, particularly cricket. For decades he made good use of his cricket membership both of Middlesex and the MCC at Lord's, as well as their London rivals Surrey at the Oval.
Maurice was also a regular in the Carrow Road stands of Norwich City, a team he followed his entire life, despite living in London.
The oldest of six boys, Maurice was born in 1915 and grew up in South London. In the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy, serving as a Petty Officer in the North Atlantic and off Africa.
After the War, he was married to Ellen and trained to become a teacher. He went on to become a head teacher and retired 40 years ago. Up until he died he was receiving letters from former pupils paying tribute to the support and encouragement he had given them.
In his time volunteering at the St Paul's Cathedral School he saw many children come and go, but had a particular soft spot for a certain Alastair Cook, former England Test captain, who he remembered scoring 110 out of a total of 127 in a game against Westminster Abbey.
To celebrate his 100th birthday Maurice was interviewed at Lord's, and described what it was like to watch the greatest cricketer of them all, Sir Donald Bradman.
The Very Reverend David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s said: "We talk of well-known people sometimes as national treasures; but to all who knew him, Maurice was a humble, loving and much-loved treasure himself, who gave himself to others and whom it has been a joy to know.
"The presentation of the St Mellitus medal by the Bishop of London in 2014, awarded in recognition of substantial contribution to the Christian life of London, and the marking of his own century were times for celebration of friendship and service; and the fulfilment of his vocation in teaching meant so much to him till the last.
"Maurice has been ready and waiting for the call to leave us for some years, and now is in the peace which he looked for; perhaps his only disappointment would be missing the opportunity of a last match or two at Lord's.
"Of all the treasures of St Paul’s, none has been more valued than Maurice Sills; we have been praying for him daily during his last days. It was a privilege to know him, and he will be greatly missed by his friends of all ages, in all parts of this country and around the world."
Pictured above is Maurice Sills in his Canaries scarf at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Story and picture courtesy of St Paul’s Cathedral