Tribute to resident who was mainstay of village life

BYFLEET paid tribute to a hugely popular figure when an invited audience attended the dedication of a bench in his honour.

Godfrey Chapples was a mainstay of the village, notably as a former chairman of Byfleet, West Byfleet & Pyrford Residents’ Association, vice-chairman of the Friends of Byfleet Parish Day and trustee of Byfleet Village Hall. He also represented Byfleet ward on Woking Borough Council.

CEREMONY – Godfrey’s granddaughter Darcie cuts the ribbon on the memorial bench, assisted by wife Pauline and son Mike, and watched by an invited audience

He was an active member of St Mary’s Church and a supporter of Byfleet Community Library, where he was involved in the campaign to save it when it was threatened with closure.

Godfrey ran the popular Rhymetime sessions for the toddlers in the library, and the bench is located outside the building. The funds for the bench came from donations from villagers and local organisations.

Addressing a large crowd which included the Deputy Mayor of Woking, Saj Hussain, and Cllrs Mary Bridgeman and Amanda Boote, the Rev. John McCabe, Rector of St Mary’s Church in Byfleet, delivered a moving speech about Godfrey, his contribution to the life of the village, his personal qualities, and especially the importance of Godfrey’s wife Pauline in everything he did.

“Pauline was always at Godfrey’s side,” the Rev. McCabe said. “Her support made it all possible.

“Keeping her feet on the ground facilitated Godfrey to be his best self. Godfrey could accept that life is not perfect but still continue to be positive; I’m sure having Pauline as a rock was no small part of that.

MULTI-TALENTED – Godfrey as Father Christmas, just one of his many roles in Byfleet

“Godfrey also had a loveable rogue side to him, but also a great sense of dignity and respect. He liked things being done well, and a word from him was a meaningful one.

“He was an encourager; a man of faith, actually a man of prayer. I have a fond memory of sitting in the church porch with him at six one morning as for a while we prayed together.”

Cllr Boote added: ‘’Godfrey was a true gentleman who did so much for the village of Byfleet and he is truly missed.

“He dedicated a tremendous amount of time to the village that he loved – from being our village Father Christmas, being chairman of the Residents’ Association, a member of the Byfleet Forum, organising Byfleet Parish Day and running Rhymetime sessions for the younger children at our local library.

“The children were captivated by his magical way of storytelling and the library would always be packed whenever he was there.’

‘’Godfrey and I were in the St. Mary’s Church choir together and he had a fabulous voice. He was passionate about us trying to put in place a flood alleviation scheme for the village and he was someone who truly cared about helping others.

“We shared a love of rugby and red wine and I will miss his emails as they always contained words that I hadn’t heard of before – he was an amazing orator.’’

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