Camberwell legend's dying wish may be granted

CAMBERWELL legend Roy Smith died without seeing his dream come true, but it appears his dying wish will be granted.

Mr Smith was born across the creek from the heritage-listed St Clement’s Church and revealed to the Newcastle Herald in March this year that it was his desire to be buried in the churchyard.

The 96-year-old was part of a community group of churchgoers who were fighting to have repaired the damage the church sustained in a 2008 arson attack.

The Newcastle Anglican diocese refused to budge on reopening the church and spent the $375,000 insurance payout on 11 other churches in the Singleton area. The Parish of Singleton is also moving to have the church formally deconsecrated, meaning Mr Smith’s family will be unable to hold his funeral inside.

But his daughter, Carol Garvie, confirmed yesterday that a funeral service for Mr Smith would be held in the church grounds on Tuesday and he would have his wish of being buried in the churchyard.

‘‘It’s just so disappointing that the church hasn’t been reopened and his funeral can’t be held there,’’ she said.

‘‘He was still fighting to have it reopened right up until he passed away.

‘‘He kept saying to me ‘if we can just put a floor in we could use it’.’’

Mr Smith, who had five children, 13 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren, died on Tuesday in Caboolture Hospital, north of Brisbane, after flying to Mackay to be at his great-granddaughter’s wedding.

A spokesman for Newcastle’s Anglican diocese confirmed yesterday that its stance had not changed since the insurance payout was spent.

‘‘The insurance money wasn’t sufficient to restore the church back to operation,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘The money was instead poured back into other churches in Singleton and back into the community.’’

The foundation stone for St Clement’s was laid in 1841 and the building was finished in 1855, making it one of the oldest buildings in Singleton and among the top three oldest church buildings in NSW.

The building’s brick exterior and stained glass windows survived the 2008 fire and the diocese initially vowed to rebuild.

The community chipped in more than $20,000 to put towards restorations but the Anglican diocese of Newcastle property approvals board rejected those plans.

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