Son’s tribute to village’s long-serving reverend

Reverend Bob Emm, who passed away last week at the age of 72.
Reverend Bob Emm, who passed away last week at the age of 72.

Reverend Bob Emm was well-versed in the daily life of a number of diverse communities up and the country - but he couldn’t have been prouder to serve North Thoresby.

That’s the firm conviction of his son, Ben, who made the move to the village as a teenager in the eighties as Bob became the rector of St Helen’s Church.

The rectory became the family home for many years - and was Bob’s own residence throughout his three decades of service to the community until about 18 months ago.

He remained in the area to enjoy a brief retirement before he died on January 22 aged 72, following a short illness.

Bob’s work as a clergyman had taken him far and wide over the years - from White City in West London to Yeovil in Somerset.

Bob became acquainted with a huge variety of life, which afforded him a sympathetic, pragmatic and realistic view of the world – coupled with Christian compassion.

“Dad got to know innumerable people from different walks of life over the years,” Ben told the Leader.

“There was lots of immigration in urban social housing areas like White City in the late 1960s/early 1970s, when he was working there.

“The community he served was diverse - a melting pot of different cultures and identities for whom he provided a focal point in common.

“He would work with white working class families one minute, and new arrivals from other countries excited to start their new lives the next.”

Though a man devoted to his faith and his work, Bob’s realistic worldview and open mindedness meant that, for many, he could be considered ahead of his time.

He himself was twice married, and Susan, his wife and Ben’s mum, was a divorcee with two children of her own in tow.

“They were married in 1979, and Dad formally adopted me in 1985 - when we relocated to Lincolnshire.

“We became our own version of a nuclear family, and I think this experience gave him the ability to handle similar situations in his community especially respectfully and sensitively.

During his time at North Thoresby, he was a significant figure to countless people and guided them through some of the most important events of their lives.

Ben said: “Rural ministry is all about strong relationships, and Dad certainly knew his parishioners well.

“I’ve had countless messages of condolence from people who all admired Dad.

“A few people said things like ‘he married my partner and I’, ‘he baptised our children’, and ‘he helped us say goodbye to a loved one’.

“There are records of the rectors of St Helen’s going back to the eleventh century, and Dad was immensely proud to think his name would one day be added to that list.

“He was Dad to me, but he was also deeply embedded in the community as someone loved and admired by many.”