Tributes to the late 

Canon Norman Woods

Canon Norman Woods RIP

Vicar of Hythe 1977-2001

Norman and Patsy in the Holy Land 2016


Sea of Galilee, Holy Land, 2016


Whilst many of us in St Leonards Parish Hythe may mourn the loss of a trusted friend, many in the Town of Hythe will mourn the passing of a friendly priest who officiate at countless Baptisms Weddings and Funerals.  Many will have their own memories and shared stories, the following are the comments and views of some of those who shared part of Norman’s Ministry.

David Owen Churchwarden

Due to my London business commitments, it wasn't possible for me to attend his Induction to our Parish and the first time I met him was his first Sunday as our new Incumbent. The Parish had gone through a very difficult period just previously with a young but tragically terminally ill priest at the helm.


Now we had this small bundle of energy suddenly inflicted upon us and if I am brutally honest, I didn't take to him at first! I remember returning home and Cathy asking me about him, and I described him as a gushing little man. I will probably have to answer for my description at the pearly gates in a few years when Norm will be looking over the shoulders of St. Peter and telling him this one was a bit iffy!! 

More seriously our relationship was a slow burner, and I began to appreciate his gifts and sense of spirituality but I always was a bit of a bystander largely it must be said because I was an ambitious Insurance Broker in London and when I wasn’t on a aeroplane flying around the world I prioritised my young family here in Hythe! 


Things began to change when Norm announced he would lead a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land from our Parish and I asked if Cathy - a Roman Catholic - and I could go with the Party? Of course, was the reply! "Storming Norman" was in his element taking us through the whole gambit of emotions as we travelled throughout Gallilee and Jerusalem. It was the experience of a lifetime and to be repeated a further two times in all. 


Shortly after we returned and at the end of a Parish Eucharist, he asked if I would consider being Churchwarden? I recall saying perhaps when I leave the city! Six months later my job left me, and he asked me again! He knew what he wanted, and he got me. For the next six years we worked together very closely, we played cricket together, we joked together, and he was an amazing support as I rebuilt my life. We set up the Millennium Fund to rebuild the East Window and build the Vestry extension and together with Pat Miller as the other Warden tried to support Norman’s Ministry to the people of Hythe.


Norman was by this time coming towards the end of his time in Hythe. John Wren had replaced Pat as Warden. I knew he was really going when he handed over the captaincy of the Cricket team to me. We planned for his farewell Eucharist. Everybody pulled out all the stops and it was the most emotional experience I can recall in St Leonards- Norm was in tears, I was in tears and so I suspect was a large percentage of the Congregation. 

And then he was gone! 


Gushing little man? Yes, certainly but what did he gush? LOVE! - His love for and commitment to his Lord. His love and commitment to the people of Hythe and his love and commitment to his family. His impact in Hythe is still remembered today!




Mike Cox Lay Reader


I would just like to pay a tribute to Norman who was instrumental in my becoming a Lay Reader way back in 1995. My calling wasn’t a Damascus Road experience; we were on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and I helped Norman with the Eucharist on the Mount of Olives and I got a nudge.


When we got back to Hythe, I spoke to Norman about this ‘Nudge’ on the Mount of Olives and we spoke about Lay Ministry and training to become a Reader. He said, “If you want to become a Reader, Mike, you need to do something about your hearing”, (I was a bit deaf)’ so I did what he suggested.  He also said “If you put God first, everything else will fall into place”; so I did (I’m still working on that one Norman)!


Norman gave me enormous support, If I got things right, “Great Mike”, he said; if things weren’t quite on the mark he would tell me. This was his way; I knew exactly where I stood. When I was admitted as Reader in Canterbury Cathedral, Norman presented me with my Blue Scarf and he whispered, “This is for you Mike, don’t hide behind it. Be Yourself”  

Thanks Norm it was great!


From Past Choir Boys Kelvyn Brown & Peter Hawkins

A Tribute to Norman Woods

From St Leonard’s Choir

We sing in unison to the wonderful Woods

Who planted hope in Hythe’s neighbourhoods.

Rooted in love from the day of his birth,

Spreading seeds of sunshine and joy on this earth.


He touched all our lives at St Leonard’s choir,

Inspiring each treble to go higher and higher.

Soprano, alto, tenor, and bass

His mischief and love brought a smile to our face.


Sermons on cricket, he loved hitting the fours,

Hymn numbers to sing out the football scores,

Holidays from Loreto to Poperinge

For the choirboys there was always a sick bag he’d bring.


His service was counted in many ways,

Not by the days in his life but the life in his days

Always giving his time so generously for free

He welcomed us under his family tree.


And alongside the Hill, the great Woods grew.

Between the notes we were taught all we knew

Why speed up the scales to become solo stars

When you can pause for a rest in a couple of bars.


So finally, we can see the Woods from the trees,

The power of his love as we pray on our knees.

When we plant seeds of hope in the earth each day

Then his spirit will never pass away

And together we’ll give the greatest of goods

To fill the whole world with Norman Wood.


Graham Silsbury Churchwarden

Serving with Norman as his churchwarden

Norman offered a lovely leadership style always encouraging never getting over involved in the work that had to be done but always keeping his finger on the pulse and was so encouraging.


He was not a practical man and had no hesitation in admitting it. Practical matters were not his skill. What he did do so well was to maintain an interest always aware of what was going on and what people were doing around the church and parish.


He loved appearing interested in absolutely everything and had the wonderful ability of turning anything asked of him into an inquiry of the person asking the question in the first place, so you felt your opinion and views mattered.

He was able to keep abreast of all the issues impacting on the church and was able to engage in any conversation. This skill inspired people in whatever capacity to get involved and get things done.

He was a visionary and had the ability to communicate in such a way that you knew when things were important to him. As for the detailed organisation he was more than happy to leave this to others and of course in his personal life that support came from Patsy who was always there by his side where and whenever she could be.

Berkeley Hill Music Director

The Church of St. Leonards was quite a shock to Norman Woods. He came from a housing estate with a modern church and here he was in a building that dates back to Saxon times and was the size of a small cathedral.

The music here reflected five hundred years of well-established traditions and was entirely alien to what he was used to. It took some time to convince him that having a conductor for the choir was a good idea and that it was more efficient for me to choose the hymns and psalms and all the other music. However, the system worked and he was soon happy to adopt the Hythe approach and music repertory, though Norman often tried to slip in a song of the ‘Shine Jesus shine’ variety as a “special request”. We rarely, if ever, had meetings to coordinate music and liturgy, but things always worked out.

Norman’s installation went with a bang – literally as the tower was hit by a thunderbolt at the exact moment his procession entered the church. Hardly less impactful was the enthusiasm he brought to the substantial boys and men choir that in the 1970s sang all the services at St. Leonards, especially to its social activities. Norman initiated choir ‘holidays’ to sing in Belgium (1977), St Michael’s College Tenbury Wells (1978 and 1979) and, from 1980, greatly supported our annual weeks deputising at cathedrals in England, Wales and Ireland – a series that lasted to the mid-1990s and included a visit to Loreto, Italy in 1984 partly paid for by the Vatican. Norman came to many of these, driving one of the minibuses and being responsible for all the non-musical happenings. Tales of japes, mishaps and near-misses on the choir holidays are legion, but we always brought back the same number of boys and young men as started out.

Perhaps my most vivid memory of Norman was at the annual Christingle Service. Over the years it became increasingly packed with children and parents, increasingly dangerous as they processed with lighted candles, increasingly messy in the choirstalls as choristers used their oranges and candles for non-religious purposes, and Norman’s increasingly fanciful account of the history of the Christingle. But no-one could forget his account of the deeper meaning that underlaid the event. Our quarter-century of a good working relationship turned into warm friendship when he retired, something for which I am deeply grateful.

John Wren Church warden x 2


For me to pay tribute to this remarkable Priest, friend and soul mate, would take a complete volume.

So just a simple thank you Norm for enriching my life.

The Parish of St Leonard, Hythe 

Oak Walk 



CT21 5DN