Gillian McLauchlan passed away early on the morning of Sunday 10 November 2019, and will long be remembered for giving many years of service as our former club Treasurer. The Sppring Programme for 2020 carried the following appreciation:



Gillian McLauchlan RIP

A personal appreciation by Tony Finnegan

Gillian passed away early on the morning of Sunday 10 November 2019, and as well as being a friend to many from when she joined St Francis of Assisi Catholic Ramblers in 1995, she also served the club in many capacities.

I, like several other members of the St Francis club, first met Gillian on the Arundel and Brighton Ecumenical Walking Pilgrimage which I joined for the first time in 1988. By that time Gillian had become a long-standing pilgrim fulfilling many important roles as a leader, back-marker, and organising the daily preparation of sandwiches, a role in which she was known as the "sarny queen"! But, her most important role was taking bookings for overnight pilgrims and ensuring that everyone made their due payments for this and events not included in the basic cost of attendance on the pilgrimage. Over the years she took part in many walkouts, and, during the Foot and Mouth disease access restrictions in 2001, she led an imaginative ramble where we could walk along parts of the Thames Path.


When Gillian went to her eternal reward in 2019 the amazing turnout for her funeral, about 300, was witness to the high esteem with which she was held. Not only did nearly a quarter of club members attend, adding to the already large congregation, the Mass was concelebrated by nine priests and amongst the tributes read out at the Mass one was from the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and another from the recently appointed Archbishop of Southwark who had been an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster with responsibility for Gillian's parish in Shepherds Bush.


A summary of notes sent in by Theresa Roberts, Gillian’s sister

Gillian was born on 21st October 1952, Trafalgar Day. Her well attended funeral was held at Our Lady of Fatima, Whitechapel. Many from St Francis of Assisi Catholic Ramblers attended her funeral in tandem with HCPT, A&B Pilgrimages, The Guild of St Stephen and other groups. Gillian did not fear death and only lay in bed helpless for two days. God was merciful. She is now safe with Him and her twin sister, Monica who died of the same condition approximately two years before.

Gillian trained as a nursery nurse. She then went on to learn sign language which she used to great effect with deaf children.

Gillian wore many hats as a fellow pilgrim, SFACRC rambler, signer, Eucharistic Minister, someone to turn to in an hour of need, a poignant voice on the telephone and a loving servant of God and his church. Gillian helped people in so many ways. She was a huge help to SFACRC by being our Treasurer for the best part of 19 years.

Gillian was enamoured with pilgrimages after having experienced her first one to Lourdes with Monica, her elder sister Theresa and their Mum at age 10. This was an experience so rich to her that she gave thanks for her last pilgrimage when she returned for her final trip to Lourdes with Theresa with group 537 at Hosanna House in August 2019. Theresa found a bidding prayer at the bottom of her rucksack. It said

Dear Lord, thank you for enabling me to join this group. I thank you for 2½ years of chemo without pain and with few side effects.  Now there is no more treatment I fully acknowledge my life is totally in your hands. I pray for patience as I learn to accept my body’s limitations; for graciousness when people offer help, especially when I think I don’t need it, and like my twin sister before me – for courage to face the future with good humour. Lord in your mercy … Hear our prayer”.

The members of SFACRC who knew Gillian were all touched by her generosity of goodwill and her great sense of humour. She kept fit by going on rambles and pilgrimages with us and others plus the ability to nip up and down her 51 steps to her third floor flat.

You’ll be happy to read that Gillian was decorated with the medal of Merit from Westminster which has an inscription on the reverse. The papal colours were on its ribbon. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

(There were indeed 9 priests, as Tony says. They evidently included both the National and Westminster Diocesan Directors of St Stephen, Canon Madely, then Dean of Arundel Cathedral, and Fr Fitch from St John the Baptist in Brighton. Much of the Central Council of the Guild attended and the singing was led by the Choir of Gunnersbury School. The whole mass was signed for the benefit of the Deaf Community present.)


Gillian wearing her HCPT shirt in which she took great pride

And in 2003 when she was a prized member of the Arurundel and Brighton Ecumenical Pilgrimage organisation.