LOYAL friend and faithful minister David Leeson from Stratton, Cirencester has died, age 70.

Reverend David Leeson was the associate priest for Bagendon, Baunton, Coberley, Colesbourne, Cowley, Elkstone, North Cerney, Rendcomb and Stratton.

Born in February 1945 at Cheltenham Road in Stratton, the home he then shared with his mother Joan for all his life, Revd Leeson died suddenly on May 31 - a week after being admitted to hospital with a diabetes complication.

His funeral was held at St Peter's Church in Stratton on June 11, with a eulogy prepared by his cousin David Phillips.

"He attended Powells Primary and Deer Park secondary schools," read David Phillips. "Even as a young boy he gave an indication of his future path in life. He was a choirboy here at St Peter's and on Saturdays, as he grew older, he helped out with various tasks at Cirencester Parish Church."

After leaving school he went to work at Gilletts Bacon Factory following in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncles who were well known butchers in Cirencester.

He tried several jobs after the factory, and eventually settled as manager of the Farm division of Horton's the chemist.

The "patient" and "loving" minister was encouraged to train as a priest by the retired Bishop of Oxford the Revd Harry Carpenter. He was ordained in 1985 at Gloucester Cathedral.

"This was the beginning of a long and most dedicated ministry in God's service," added cousin David. "As Joan, his mother says, 'For David Church was his life'.

After losing his job at Hortons, Revd Leeson started working temporarily in Swindon and it was during this time that he met Eric, and began a 30-year friendship. Eric's interest in Swindon Opera opened up a new interest in David's life and volunteered behind the scenes for more than 20 years.

"David's untimely death will leave a big void in our church family," said his cousin David. "We shall all miss his gentle spiritual guidance, his thoughtful preaching and his willingness to help with worship wherever it was needed."

David's mother Joan, his friend Eric and all family have said thank you to all those who have sent cards and kind messages of sympathy.