Canon Derek Potter Canon Derek Palmer, formerly of Bath Road, Banbury, died suddenly at the age of 74 after a life devoted to the work of the church.

He died on Wednesday, March 20, at a meeting of county ecumenical officers.

Canon Palmer moved to Banbury upon his retirement in 1995 following a ministry that took him all over the country.

He forged links with local radio to launch the nation-wide Lent Course across the country in 1986, helping to attract 1.5m people to the course. One of his proudest achievements was the Millennium Yew Project, which saw yew cuttings from a tree growing at the time of Christ planted in over 7,000 churches.

His son Nigel Palmer, 46, said: "As one of the founders of the ecumenical movement in this country in the 1950s he was ahead of his time.

"It is perhaps fitting and symbolic that he should die undertaking the ecumenical work to which he had contributed so much."

After taking a degree at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and studying at Wells Theological College he was ordained and became priest in charge at Bishopston, Bristol, in 1954.

He moved to become vicar of Christ Church, Swindon, in 1968 and was appointed as a Canon of Bristol Cathedral in 1974 before being appointed as Archdeacon of Rochester Cathedral in 1976.

The General Synod's Board of Mission and Unity appointed him as its home secretary in 1983. He went on to become Team Rector of Dronfield, in the diocese of Derby, from 1987.

In 1990, he was made a Chaplain to the Queen, and in 1992 he became an honorary Canon of Derby Cathedral. Following his retirement in 1995, he moved to Banbury, becoming honorary secretary of the Banbury Civic Society last year.

Colleagues said he continued to work relentlessly through his retirement. He was appointed county ecumenical officer for Buckinghamshire and a trustee of the Churches' Media Trust.

He leaves a wife, Cecilie, four children and five grandchildren.