TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Club Chaplain of Rugby Town FC, who has died at the age of 81.
Local sporting and ecclesiastical communities have shared their memories of Rev Ken Baker.
The one-time football referee officiated at all levels of the professional game between 1971 and 1987, while playing an active role with the Referees Association in Rugby.
He then dedicated himself to the church, becoming ordained in 1997 – but kept his close connections with the sport he loved by first taking on the role of Chaplain at Northampton Town and then at Aston Villa – a post he held for 17 years.
His ministerial responsibilities saw him involved in many of the local outlying parishes, and he was also appointed Rural Dean of Guthlaxton and an honorary Canon of Leicester Cathedral.
Ken was also Club Chaplain for his local side Rugby Town FC, and the club’s Director Mike Yeats fondly recalled the many contributions made by him over the years.
He said: “Ken was a lovely man and true gentleman in every sense of the word.
“He was a regular and most welcome visitor to Butlin Road for matches and other events, and he was always engaging company with some wonderful stories of his time officiating in the professional game.
“The club would also like to acknowledge the invaluable pastoral support Ken provided to us. He always made himself available in times of need.
“I recall in particular the service he conducted at the ground ten years ago for one of our loyal supporters who had died, Bob Giles. I know Bob’s family were very grateful for his contribution on that day.”
Commenting on the Aston Villa website, the club’s current chaplain Jon Grant also paid tribute to Ken’s achievements.
He said: “I want to continue the great legacy that Ken began by offering support to Aston Villa fans, staff and teams alike.
“On behalf of the Aston Villa family, I would personally like to thank and honour him for all he contributed during his time as Club Chaplain – we honour his many years of service.
“His family are in our prayers at this saddest of times. God bless you Ken, another Holte Ender in the Sky.”
Ken’s Celebration Of Life Service will be held on Wednesday September 9 at 12.30 at All Saints Church in Lilbourne, followed by a burial at Lilbourne Cemetery – although current Covid restrictions limit attendance within these two venues to family only.
A minute’s silence in honour of Ken’s life was held before kick-off of Rugby Town’s FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Worcester at Butlin Road on Tuesday (September 1).
Visit www.jstampandsons.co.uk to make a charitable donation in memory of Ken.