Lady Grace Sheppard, (pictured right - Picture by Paul Heaps; reproduced by permission of the Liverpool Post and Echo)
widow of the former Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, has died after fighting cancer. The 75-year-old author lived during retirement in West Kirby, Wirral, and was a member of St Bridget’s Church, West Kirby.
Bishop James said "Grace Sheppard will be deeply mourned by the Diocese of Liverpool and by all who were filled with hope by her writings. She was not only a constant companion and support in David’s remarkable ministry but had a ministry in her own right. We give thanks to God today for her and hold Jenny, their daughter, and the whole family in our prayers."
Grace passed away at St John’s Hospice, Wirral, on Thursday 11 November, surrounded by family and close friends.She was diagnosed in July with advanced metastatic breast cancer which had spread to her lungs, bones and liver.
The funeral will be at St Bridget’s Church, West Kirby, on Wednesday 24 November, starting at 2pm. A memorial service will be held next spring at Liverpool Cathedral.
Grace’s daughter Jenny Sinclair said: “Her sudden decline came as quite a shock, as she has been so full of beans until recently. In hindsight, given the extent and virulence of the disease it was remarkable she lasted so long. She was a person with an exceptionally powerful life force and a desire to make the most of every moment, even when she was extremely ill.”
Jenny said that those who had talked to Grace over the past few days were in no doubt about her deep sense of peace and certainty about where she was going. “Indeed she seemed to be almost there, saying ‘I’m hovering between two worlds’.”
Praising the staff at St John's Hospice, Jenny said: “They have been absolutely wonderful and I cannot imagine a more loving and tender place to pass from this life to the next.”
The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Rev Keith Sinclair, and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, said jointly: “We mourn a lady who radiated trust and love. Every day she explored and expressed both, whoever she was with and wherever she was; with staff at St John’s Hospice, with friends in her beautiful garden, with close family and strangers. She loved life and Liverpool!
"She loved God and grew in trust through the toughest of times and the best. She knew the meaning of Jesus' words ‘I have called you friends’, and from that ever-deepening friendship she offered friendship from West Ham to West Kirby.
"Her books ‘An Aspect of Fear’ and ‘Living with Dying’ show how trust and love in her life grew in the dark places as well as the light. Earth is the poorer and heaven the richer for her passing."
Last month Grace made her last public appearance, giving a moving address at the ‘Pause for Hope’ service at Liverpool Cathedral.
Click here to read her address.
You can listen to Grace Sheppard's talk here
Grace's husband, Bishop David, died five years ago from bowel cancer. His death came just six months after he too, had spoken at the 2004 ‘Pause for Hope’ service. It was his spirit that inspired Grace to accept the invitation to speak at the service, despite her advanced illness.
Hundreds of people come from all over the North West to this annual and very moving event. The ecumenical service is open to all who are affected by cancer.