‘The Friends of West Mersea Parish Church’ is established as a group of interested people from the wider community who wish to support and maintain this wonderful Mersea ancient building, as this requires a long term sustainable commitment. In this way we will ensure that this generation hands the Church on in good order to the next, just as previous custodians have done. ‘Friends’ organisations have been extremely successful both locally and nationally in achieving these objectives.
This short film was made in 2011, when we first launched The Friends appeal, our aims remain the same today.
Col. Jeremy Dumas OBE was the founder and original Chairman of the Friends of West Mersea Parish Church. It was his inspiration and drive which laid the foundations for the success of The Friends – an organisation which has not only raised a considerable sum of money which has funded several projects for the maintenance of the church building but which has also brought a greater awareness and appreciation of this ancient monument and enhanced the use of the church for social and cultural events amongst the wider community.
After a long and distinguished career in The Army, he retired in 1997 to the house in West Mersea on the Essex coast which he and his wife Lizzie had acquired some years before. He soon threw himself into community life. He began working for the West Mersea Lifeboat in 2002 and in 2007 took over management of the Station. He also became a Church Warden overseeing the fabric of our ancient parish church. Finding no money for repairs he initiated an appeal, and then set up the Friends of West Mersea Parish Church, a group dedicated to ensuring a constant trickle of money for maintenance.
He sadly died on 22 February 2015, aged 72, courteous and modest to the end. The packed church at his funeral was testament to the loss which has been felt by his friends and his local community. He is survived by Lizzie and their three children, Richard, Leafy and Emily, and by four grandchildren.
Graham was one of the founders of the Friends and had previously been a member of the Parochial Church Council. Graham and his wife Annette’s association with Mersea Island began in 1976 when they bought their first boat which they moored at Mersea before moving here permanently in 1985. A member of West Mersea Yacht Club, he taught RYA navigation courses here for nearly 20 years and progressed to becoming an RYA Yacht Master Examiner. Graham also held positions of Sailing Secretary and Honorary Secretary at the Club. In 2007 he circumnavigated Britain in his boat, Collette with his co-owner.
Graham and his family were also regular attenders at West Mersea Parish Church and Graham became a member of the Parochial Church Council. He played a key role in the setting up of the Friends of West Mersea Parish Church including the creation of this website and assistance with many of the technical aspects of our events.
Graham sadly died shortly after a heart transplant in late 2014.
Graham had a great zest for life, was always humorous with the ability to laugh at himself. He contributed in many different ways to our local community and has enriched the lives of many of us with his friendship and happiness. He will be sadly missed.