Hundreds of people line a Rugby street to pay their respects to Pastor Simon Whitley

Hundreds of people lined Cambridge Street at 12pm on Wednesday, December 11, to pay their respects to a much-loved Rugby pastor who died aged just 34.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 12:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 4:42 pm
Pastor Whitley. Submitted photo.

Pastor Simon Whitley began his time at Rugby Elim Church in March 2017 and his father, Michael Whitley, said he transformed the church.

Pastor Whitley was diagnosed with metastatic renal cancerlate last year and, despite managing to beat it in his lungs, spinal column and groin, he died on November 27, 2019.

He is survived by Lisa his wife and two children, five-year-old Myles and three-year-old Edith.

"He completely changed the church by bringing a new vision and direction to the congregation," Mr Whitley said.

"The number of lives he has touched - 400 people came to the funeral to pay their respects and there was a round of applause as the procession came up Cambridge Street.

"People came from all around the country, including from the Elim Church headquarters."

In addition to his work at the church, Pastor Whitley spent time helping communities around the world.

His most recent trip was in 2018 - when he travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help to build a refuge for survivors of rape.

A representative from Mercedes traveled to the funeral to bring Lewis Hamilton's racing helmet and the steering wheel from his F1 car to be included in the procession.

Pastor Whitley was an avid F1 racing fan, and his father said he wished to thank Mercedes and Toto Wolff for their kindness.

When Pastor Whitley was very ill the family managed to get him to Silverstone and, with the generosity of the church, secure some trackside tickets.

The family also contacted Mercedes, who helped to arrange a meeting with former racing driver Toto Wolff.

On the day the meeting was scheduled to happen, Pastor Whitley had become even more ill and it was expected he would not be able to attend.

But Mr Wollff sent a driver to pick Pastor Whitley up, and the two spent 40 minutes together.

The last event Pastor Whitley organised is a carol concert to be held this Sunday.

Mr Whitley said his son wished that the event would go on as planned.

It takes place at Temple Speech Rooms (on the corner of the A428 and Barby Road) at 6pm on December 15.