It was with great sadness I heard of the passing of Lionel, to me a local face for some time and a truly happy soul to come across.
I first met Lionel at a local RNLI function, yet his reputation certainly preceded him in only the best way possible. Lionel Webber was a man of God, he was Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral and Chaplain to the Queen. And, for more than 20 years, he had been Rector of Basildon.
He was also the Chaplin to the Burnham-on-Crouch Lifeboat crew and in 2019 received an award for his “dedicated support and invaluable contribution” to Burnham-on-Crouch RNLI. He said: “I was thrilled and honoured to receive this award. “Fifty years ago, when I was vicar of Port Talbot, I joined the lifeboat crew and my time as a serving member is among the most important of my life. “Now, to be chaplain of the Burnham station is the icing on the cake.”
And for those thinking why is this relevant to a Motorsport site, the Chaplin to the BRDC and familiar face in the Historic Paddock.
An excerpt from Simon Taylor's piece sums Lionel up well (Motorsport Magazine)
"But Lionel Webber is also, to the bottom of his cassock, a motor racing enthusiast. Parked outside his church is his red 3.0-litre Alfa Romeo 75, bearing the registration J3 REV. On his study walls are paintings of Michele Alboreto and Gerhard Berger, of Hawthorn and Collins, of Jimmy Clark. Motor racing history books are split equally with the religious volumes on his shelves.
His love and understanding of the motor racing world and its people make him the inevitable choice to mark the passing of one of its number. The service he conducted for Denis Jenkinson, a non-Christian, was an extraordinary exercise in liberal judgement and sympathy. He told the congregation that Jenks was now in another place, saying hello to Fangio and Senna, then arguing vociferously with God that He did not exist. He clearly knew Jenks well…
Lionel’s love of motor racing dates back-to his early post-war trips to Silverstone in the Swallow sidecar of his grandfather’s 16H Norton, his father on the pillion. They cheered on his grandfather’s hero, Villoresi, to win that first post-war international in 1948, and celebrated at The Green Man on the way home. Now, as British Racing Drivers’ Club chaplain, he counts Silverstone as his second home.
After national service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers — driving a Sherman tank on the vehicle training course — he spent three years in an Anglican monastery. “Dad sent me MOTOR SPORT every month, and during meditation l would hide it in the folds of my cassock, put my hood over my head and catch up on Jenks and The Bod.”
Lionel's Funeral Service will take place on Saturday 24th April 2021 at St. Lawrence Newland Church, which has unfortunately been restricted to close family. However should you wish to make a donation, please find the details below.