Clive Brooks (31 May 1936 – 21 December 2022) spent his early years under the shadow of war, bombed out of his family home at the age of four and left with no possession other than a blanket.
His mother, with her three children under five, were taken in by ‘an angel behind the blue door’ who shared what little she had with them. Difficult days followed but her selfless kindness guided him throughout his life.
After an East End childhood, he served in the RAF for three years as a dog-handler and a sharp-shooter, and it was then that he met Mary whom he married at the age of 20.
When he left the RAF he joined the Metropolitan Police where he served for 30 eventful years. For example, his beat included the street in which the Kray twins, their brother Charlie and their formidable mum Violet, operated. He later sat between Ronnie and Reggie during their sentencing for murder. And, heavily armed and in body armour, he escorted them into court during the trial at a time when the intelligence was that the Mafia had picked up a contract to spring them in an armed raid. None of this appears to have fazed him.
As retirement beckoned, and already fully engaged in SVP and youth work in his parish, he felt a calling to the diaconate and the Bishop of Brentwood sent him to the fledging formation programme at St John’s Seminary in Wonersh.
He and Mary were looking for a place in the Essex countryside but they fell in love with a house in East Bergholt just over the Stour in Suffolk, so he was given a free transfer from Brentwood to East Anglia. He was ordained in June 1992 and served with equal distinction for another 30 years, mainly in the parish of St Mark’s Ipswich, with a short spell in St Mary Magdalen Ipswich.
For several years he was a wonderful director of the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes where he was much loved. To everything he did in life he brought dignity, modesty, integrity, loyalty and order. To watch him walking, as he had for so many years on the beat, with a slow, relentless, purposeful gait, was to witness to his whole way of life. He was a meticulous planner, he was calm under pressure, he had an absolute commitment to others more than to himself.
He and Mary became very active in a group of third order Franciscans and his charisms were deeply Franciscan. Clive was a natural deacon, committed to serving God and neighbour with calm discipline. A senior nurse at Ipswich Hospital singled him out (along with two revered pastoral priests) as the most outstanding of hospital chaplains. Although he could look stern, his smile was radiant and spoke of a man at peace with himself.
He handled Mary’s final illness and his bereavement 11 years ago with the same stoicism with which he faced his own long final battle with cancer and he died, as he had wanted, at home, supported by his family (two sons, three grandchildren, one great grandson) and by those friends who he had himself supported over the years.
His Requiem Mass will be St Mark’s church at Ipswich at 10am on January 25, followed by a private burial in East Bergholt.
His sacred visibility as a deacon has inspired many others to greater service of God in imitation of Christ the servant. May he now rest in peace and rise in glory.