Peter Dawber

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FATHER Peter Dawber, who has died aged 67, was a well-known and popular figure in the Diocese of Leeds, and most recently the parish priest of Skipton.

This was home territory for Fr Dawber as his roots lay in the same part of Yorkshire, in the village of Bentham.

He came from a large farming family and after leaving school he followed in the family tradition.

But in his mid-twenties he discerned a vocation to the priesthood and entered the seminary at Ushaw in County Durham. He was ordained for the Leeds diocese in his home parish of St Boniface, Bentham, in June 1978 by Bishop Gerald Moverley, the auxiliary bishop of the diocese.

From 1978 to 1983, Fr Dawber was assistant priest at St Malachy’s parish in Halifax from where he moved to St Joseph’s, Huddersfield. He became the Catholic chaplain to the University of Bradford in 1988 and five years later he was appointed parish priest of St Paulinus, Dewsbury.

He became the parish priest of St Stephen’s, Skipton, in 2001. As he exercised his ministry in Craven and Upper Wharfedale, he confirmed his reputation as an approachable, generous and sympathetic pastor, blessed with a cheerful disposition and a great sense of humour.

He was much loved by the congregations at St Stephen’s and its sister church of St Margaret Clitherow at Threshfield near Grassington.

In 2010 the news that he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease came as a great shock to the parish and there was deep sorrow when ill-health forced his retirement from Skipton at the start of 2011.

For the past 18 months, he had been living quietly in High Bentham where he passed away.

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