Ged Clapson RIP

Ged Clapson
Ged Clapson

 Your prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of Ged Clapson, Communications Officer of the Jesuits in Britain for 14 years, who died at home on 21 November 2018 aged 63. He had been living with cancer for several years.

Ged’s funeral will be held on Wednesday 19th December, from 12.00 noon to 2.00pm, at St George’s Chapel, South London Crematorium, Rowan Road, Streatham, SW16 5JG.

It will be followed by a reception at The Bull, 498 Streatham High Road, Streatham, SW16 3QB.  All are welcome to come and give thanks for Ged's life and to mourn his passing, but please RSVP to schalmers@jesuit.org.uk.

Ged said that although he loved flowers, he would prefer donations in his memory to one of the following charities instead: CAFOD, the Jesuit Refugee Service, or Children with Cancer UK.

Obituary

Ged was born in Bristol on 20 March 1955, where he grew up with his four sisters and was educated by the Christian Brothers. Ged joined the seminary at Oscott in 1973 but realised his vocation was not for the priesthood.

He joined BBC Radio Bristol, initially in an administrative role, but soon turned his hand to producing and presenting a wide variety of programmes.  He first worked as a journalist on the news programme Morning West which included some adventurous live broadcasts such as being strapped to a stretcher and lowered down the side of six story building by paramedics while giving live commentary.  He presented his own shows and also contributed regularly to religious broadcasts, eventually taking over as Religious Affairs Producer in 1980.

In 1990 Ged moved to London to take up the position of Head of Communications for CAFOD, and in 1994 was appointed Deputy Director of the Catholic Communications Centre, where he provided training in communications and media skills for church spokespeople. As a guest lecturer he taught these skills at all the seminaries, including Oscott, and the English College in Rome. 

After going freelance as a trainer, journalist and producer, Ged became a regular contributor to Premier Christian Radio, and in 2003 he won a Jerusalem Award commendation for Tapestry of Faith – a 13 part series chronicling the history of Christianity in Britain. One of his clients – the Jesuits in Britain, invited him to take up a permanent role as Communications Officer; he worked in the provincial curia for the next fourteen years, as Deputy Editor of Jesuits and Friends magazine, and on developing the profile of Jesuit schools and ministries.  A highlight of this time was his pivotal role upon the election of Jorge Bergolio SJ as Pope Francis in March 2013. As he later wrote: “I had enquired whether there was any chance whatsoever that a Jesuit might be papabile, and had been assured that it was impossible. When Pope Francis emerged on the balcony of St Peter’s my phone barely stopped ringing for the next week. Suddenly, every media outlet was interested in the Jesuits and wanted to know more about this unknown South American Cardinal. My role as a bridge-builder between the media and the Society of Jesus was crucial and demanded all my experience and skills. It was probably one of the biggest ‘productions’ of my life and career; and it gave me tremendous satisfaction.”

Outside work, Ged loved the arts and was a keen amateur performer. As well as being in demand on the karaoke circuit he performed in productions of Goodnight, Mr Tom - the musical (in the title role), The Wizard of Oz (as the Tin Man) and The Vicar of Dibley.

Jane Hellings, Director of Development and Communications at the Jesuits in Britain, said, “Ged was a dedicated and much-loved colleague. He could coax a life-affirming news story out of the most self-effacing priest or the shyest academic and turn it into elegant and compelling prose. We miss his encyclopaedic knowledge, his deep professionalism and his dry humour.”

May he rest in peace.