Neston school pays tribute to much-loved parish priest
PARISHIONERS in Neston have paid tribute to a popular priest who died at the weekend.
Father Gerry Courell, who had served as parish priest of St Winefride’s Roman Catholic Church for 26 years, passed away on Sunday after a short illness.
Fr Courell, 67, originally from County Mayo, Ireland, was much loved by pupils and teachers at St Winefride’s Primary School, where he was vice chairman of governors.
Headteacher Dawn Ormes said: “The children and staff at St Winefride’s are still coming to terms with news of the death of Father Courell. He will be greatly missed.
“He knew every child by name and only had to appear on the school playground to be immediately surrounded by children.”
A devoted football fan, Fr Courell was a regular on match days at Tranmere Rovers, where he had been club chaplain for nearly 20 years.
Chief executive Mick Horton said: “Father Gerry was a very popular character around Prenton Park on match days and he will be sadly missed.”
In 2009 Fr Courell led a team of St Winefride’s pupils to Wembley in the Football League Community Cup.
Under his coaching, the squad of Year 5 and 6 pupils went 13 games unbeaten to represent the North of England in the once-in-a-lifetime match.
Mrs Ormes said: “Father’s ill health was a great shock to everyone. He was always such an ‘action man’, who played a full part in the life of our school, helping to manage the boys’ and girls’ football teams.
“Although he was the unofficial assistant manager, everyone recognised that it was he who was the driving force behind this team.
“His passion for all sports was legendary, being the unofficial school driver, ferrying children to and from competitions, and our greatest, and loudest, cheerleader on the sideline.
“He was a man I had come to admire as someone who had the courage of his convictions. As a true Christian, Father Courell always put others first and held St Winefride’s, its children, staff and parents, close to his heart. The world is a sadder place for his loss, and his jokes.”