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Canon Dr. Ronald Blythe MA, Reader in the Benefice of Wormingford and Mount Bures with Little Horkesley and member of the Order of St. Cedd, has been awarded the CBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. His services to literature include a number of novels including Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village; his work for Penguin English Library as Editor of classics by many authors including Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy; and his long-running Church Times column Word from Wormingford from which he retired in May of this year.

Ronald, now 94, was born in Suffolk and is a Lay Canon of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, and his CBE joins six Honorary Doctorates and many other prizes and honours marking a writing career which has spanned almost 80 years. He spent 10 years as a librarian in Colchester, through which he met the artist John Nash, and he also speaks fondly of his friendships with E M Forster and Benjamin Britten amongst many other literary and musical greats. His gentle faith has been a constant thread through his life and writings, and as Reader he has led services in the Benefice each week for over 40 years. ‘I recall one Bishop imploring me to become ordained’ he says. ‘He thought it would complete my ministry – but my writing is my vocation, and my faith inhabits my pages’.

Ronald still lives in his isolated cottage at the end of an Anglo-Saxon farm track in the beautiful Stour Valley on the Essex/Suffolk border, surrounded by the garden, fields and river which have become so well-known to his readers. The Bishop of Colchester, Rt. Revd Roger Morris, says: ‘We are so blessed to have Ronald as a minister in our Diocese. His faith and his words span the globe, and his gentle character continues to enrich the Church and the community. I am delighted that he has received this great honour.’

 

All of Ronald Blythe’s past Church Times articles are published in book form by Canterbury Press: Word from Wormingford: A parish year (£9.99); Out of the Valley (£9.99); Borderland (£10.99); A Year at Bottengoms Farm (£8.99); River Diary (£12.99 hardback); The Bookman’s Tale (£12.99); Village Hours (£14.99, hardback); Under a Broad Sky (£14.99 hardback); In the Artist’s Garden (£14.99 hardback); Stour Seasons (£14.99 hardback). In addition, there are his reflections on old age, The View in Winter (£14.99). A final compilation of his weekly columns is currently in preparation at the Church Times.

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