A MUCH loved retired vicar from Bransgore and a former Probus Club president has died at the age of 80.

Rev Colin Henry Pontin was born in New Milton in 1937 and his father Arthur Henry Pontin worked for the local authority in Lymington and surrounding areas.

He was brought up in the exclusive Brethren movement where he gained his great bible knowledge and attended Gore Road and Brockenhurst Grammar schools.

Upon leaving school he trained as a laboratory assistant and worked at Lymington and Southampton hospitals before completing his National Service.

In 1960 he joined the Wimborne Timber Company and worked there as a general manager. Three years later he married Jenifer and they had three children, Catriona, Nicholas and Joanna, and the family attended Canford Church.

"It was at Canford Church Colin felt God calling him to the ministry and he studied at Trinity College, Bristol," said his wife Jenifer.

After being ordained into the Church of England, he worked as a curate in Bristol and then moved to the Riverside team ministry with responsibility for churches in Dorney and Eton. After nine years he and Jenifer moved to Churt where he was a vicar for a further seven years.

"In each case the parishes had been through difficult times and Colin was able to use his wisdom and patience to bring them together,"said Jenifer.

When they retired they settled in Bransgore and Colin continued to play an active role in church life, assisting at Bransgore, Thorney Hill and Hinton churches. He was also involved with the Intercontinental Church Society's holiday ministry and spent time abroad in Tenerife, Switzerland, Cyprus and Ibiza.

Colin enjoyed gardening and he was a proficient pianist and guitarist. He enjoyed riding his electric bike around the New Forest. He also enjoyed spending time with the family, especially his ten grandchildren.

He was an active member of the Bransgore Probus Club and spent a year as president. His friend Bob Gee said,"He was a particularly fine president who was always concerned with the pastoral care of members."

Colin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2016 but lived to enjoy his son Nicholas' 50th birthday as well as his own 80th birthday before passing away peacefully on May 15.

His funeral held at St Mary's Church, Bransgore, was attended by over 200 people. He was described by a friend as " someone whose wisdom, insight and experience we greatly valued."

Jenifer remembers him as "a gentle caring and respected man who was much loved by many who knew him. He was a dearly loved husband, father and grandfather."

Donations in Colin's memory should either be made to Macmillan Caring Locally, either online at colin.pontin.muchloved.com or sent via W Smith & Sons funeral directors, Bransgore.