Friday, 6 November 2015

Leslie Sinel

From "The Pilot",  1992 comes this obituary of Leslie Sinel, probably best known for his Occupation Diary, one of the first published.


An address given by the Very Rev Basil O'Ferrall at the Parish Church of St Helier on 11th October 1991

Leslie Philip Sinel, born on Easter Day 1906.

We are here to give thanks for his life; to pray that he will be at peace, relieved from the stresses of this life; to commend Elsie, John, Mary, grandchildren Olivia and Rosalind, all the members of his family and his many friends to the loving care of God.

To speak of Leslie where does one begin?

Well, I first met Leslie in October 1984, when he was making up his mind as to whether or not I should be the Rector of St Helier. We met again when I came to take up my appointment. He had been talking about retiring from the office of Churchwarden, which he had held for many years.

Recognising how important he was to the life of the Parish I pleaded with him to stay in office for at least three more years to help me to settle in. This he generously undertook to do, and in fact did four more years before retiring in 1989. We were all pleased that he accepted the appointment as Churchwarden Emeritus, a small mark of recognition of his service.

Sunday School, choir, member of the Guild of Church Players. He frequently took Evensong during the Occupation years.

As Churchwarden he played his full part in the work of the Town Hall. Member of the Community Services Board, Grants Committee and various other committees associated with the welfare of the community, all in all a man committed to the Church and People. He would chat to anyone, and was a most interesting person to converse with. He loved his work with the Vingtaine de la Ville, of which he was Procureur for ten years.

It was his deep interest in and knowledge of history that drove him forward to have at least sixty plaques placed on buildings of historical interest. He was of course a member of the Société. His wartime diary is a classic and much appreciated. This, we all know, was written at great risk. Some time ago Elsie told me that it was not until after the Occupation had ended that Leslie informed her that sometimes she had been carrying around, in the boot of the pram in which John lay, some of the pages of the diary.

Leslie was a meticulous man, impatient with anything, any work or behaviour, that was sub-standard. He liked to be sure to remember things that might be mentioned in a passing conversation, and he could always produce his short pencil and a piece of paper to make a note!

The splendid tribute to him published in the Jersey .Evening Post tells us much of his life and work, and there is no need now to go over it all at this time.

So we think of his contribution to the life of Jersey and something of what he achieved.

But what of the man? Essentially a family man, he and Elsie married in 1932 and they shared so much and did so much together. John, their son, can speak with: great affection of Leslie, his goodness as a person and, of course, his streak of stubbornness. Elsie and John were with him when he died. Leslie was very proud of his family, John, Mary and the grandchildren, Olivia and Rosalind. To the children he was always "Grandpa"!

My predecessor, Canon Tom Goss, has. spoken of him as "a most lovable man, very meticulous in. all that he did. Everything had to be right, but - without any fuss. Everyone liked him. He was a joy to work with."

Not long ago Maisie Ryan, the painter, painted a portrait of Leslie, and she has written, to me about how much she had enjoyed meeting with him for the various sittings. His anecdotal conversation and his sense of humour made a great impression on her. I would like to quote from her letter:

"Leslie was a determined and practical man, but the most important feeling that came to me about him was that he was a fulfilled person. He had done his best with his life and it had come off!"

Amen to that!

Sadly, this fine man has now gone from us after a long struggle with ill health in recent months, but he will be long remembered with affection, not only by his family but by his many friends and acquaintances.

But we can all say with confidence that he has been greeted by his Lord with the words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter into the Joy of your Lord."

We can all echo with truth and affection, "Well done indeed, Leslie."

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