A CHURCH of England vicar, who began his early ministry in Reading, has died at the age of 91.

The Rev Canon Kenneth Humphreys, better known as Ken, served as curate at Christ Church and later at St Agnes between 1967 and 1970.

He then became Vicar of Compton, later Rector of Compton and East Ilsley.

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It was whilst serving as Vicar of Compton that his counselling work really took off and he was instrumental in setting up the Samaritans in Newbury.

When at Compton his two daughters Linda and Paula went off to teacher training college.

Then Ken Humphreys and his wife Hilda filled the vicarage fostering babies and teenagers and two of those teenagers were Nigel and Nick, who to this day continue to be loving and important members of the family.

In 1975 he and his wife moved to Wokingham, where as well as being curate at All Saints he worked at the No 5 Counselling Service in Reading at a time when such services were in their infancy.

He followed this by training and counselling teachers and head teachers for Berkshire County Council.

He also helped counselling a large number of clergy in the Oxford Diocese and in recognition of this the Bishop of Oxford in 1991 appointed him an honorary canon of Christ Church, Oxford, an honour he greatly valued.

Born in Edmonton, he met Hilda through an operatic society, and he married her when he was 18.

He did his National Service in the RAF.

They started married life in Tottenham and Ken was a salesman for a large greenhouse manufacturer.

Then he joined Hoover as a servicing engineer and whilst visiting households part of the role was to encourage housewives to purchase more Hoover products.

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Ken was so good at the selling side he was promoted to a salesman and eventually became area manager, moving from London to Marlow.

It was whilst he was in the Buckinghamshire town that he decided to train for the priesthood.

In 1981 he became the vicar of a new parish St Mary and St John in California-in-England, near Wokingham, and for 14 years his inspirational ministry attracted large attendances of young families in the area.

One of his relaxations was gardening and in the 1980s he gave talks to local groups in the Reading and Wokingham area showing the different varieties that he had grown in the vicarage garden.

Whilst Ken Humphreys retired in 1995, he continued to work well into his eighties, taking funerals and acting as an “ecclesiastical locum” for parishes which needed services to be taken. In recent times he took services at Christ Church in Reading.

He died at Sunrise Living in Bagshot on April 15 and a funeral service was held on May 4.

A memorial service is planned at a later date.