Minister mourned by wide circle of friends
A WIDE circle of friends have paid tribute to IT expert and community fund-raiser Lawrence Wharton following his death at 58.
Lawrence died unexpectedly at the family home at Cooden on July 4, just a few hours after attending mass.
His cheerful and giving nature were the central theme of his funeral service, in which six priests participated at a packed St Martha's Church, Little Common, on Tuesday last week.
The service, led by former parish priest and long-time friend Father Keith Tomlinson, was followed by burial at Bexhill Cemetery.
Lawrence (Lol) and his wife Judith moved from Liverpool to Bexhill in 1985 when a new job in IT beckoned. He subsequently freelanced in IT before the couple opened Cooden College language school.
Lawrence served as a Eucharistic minister within the Catholic Church, was a prominent member of family and faith group the Bexhill Catenians and was active with both Bexhill Caring Community and Eastbourne Sovereign Rotary Club.
St Mary Magdalene's parish priest Father Chris Spain said: "Lol was a great personal friend and support not only to me, but to so many of the priests who have served in this parish; and the many parishioners (of all ages) whose lives he touched - always generous with his time and skills and always sharing of himself with warmth and humour. He loved a project to help others by fundraising or sharing his many practical skills.
"He had a deep love and sense of pride in his family and his extended family of the Church. We were all saddened by his sudden death and our prayers go out to his wife Judith and the family."
Bexhill Caring Community manager Margaret von Speyr said: "Lawrence became involved with Bexhill Caring Community in the last couple of years, first of all by helping with IT problems.
"At the end of 2009 with his usual enthusiasm for anything fund-raising he immersed himself in everything computer-based for our very successful Bexercycle fund-raiser. The name was his suggestion and will be used for many years to come.
"Lawrence was always someone who, with his calming manner, could take the heat and stress out of most situations. Bexhill Caring Community was looking forward to using his expertise for other projects where electronics and IT are involved. He will be missed for his cheerfulness, enthusiasm and energy which he gave so freely to the charity."
Lawrence was a former president of Eastbourne Sovereign Rotary Club, which he had served since 2000. He fostered strong links with Ardres and developed a new contact with Hoifgeismar Wolfhagen Rotary Clubs in France and Germany.
Current club president Brian Hampson said: "Lawrence became an inspirational figure, raising funds for Water Aid and supporting the RNIB. He was great company, his sense of humour derived from his Merseyside roots.
"His IT skills were legendary and these were put to good use for Rotary.
"Lawrence loved organising musical events and was an outstanding ambassador for the Rotary movement. He will be greatly missed."
In addition to his wife, Judith, Lawrence leaves sons David and Andrew, daughters Caroline and Victoria, daughters-in-law Kathryn and Sarah and granddaughter Kaitlyn.