The Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd Keith Jukes, has died suddenly hours after being admitted to hospital.
The 59-year-old died peacefully on Tuesday, May 21 at Harrogate District Hospital with his wife, the Rev Suzanne Jukes, at his bedside.
His sudden death has been described as “a great shock” by Bishop John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, who has expressed his deep sadness and that of the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds at the news.
“Our love and prayers go to Suzanne and his children Laura and Matthew. Dean Keith was greatly loved by the cathedral community and by people in the wider city and his death will leave a hole in many of our lives,” said the Bishop.
“I have lost a close colleague and personal friend. Keith has been a tremendous influence for good within the cathedral and Diocese – we shall miss his integrity, his ready smile and his generous support.”
On Sunday, May 19, the Dean had written an announcement to be read at services in Ripon Cathedral.
In it he told the congregation that he had been unwell and that tests had revealed a growth in his upper abdomen which doctors were convinced was cancerous.
The note concluded: “I am at home at the moment, feeling very weak and tired, but in good heart. I know that come what may, God is with me, and my life is in his hands.
“Please pray for me, and for Susanne and our family. God bless you all, Keith.”
The Very Rev Keith Jukes had been Dean of Ripon for six years, taking up the post in March 2007, following eight years as vicar at Selby Abbey.
Bishop John Packer paid tribute to Dean Keith’s ministry at Ripon Cathedral since his arrival in 2007.
“During his time at Ripon Cathedral it has been re-energised as a centre of worship for the city, for the diocese and for many throughout North Yorkshire. Perhaps the greatest of Keith’s achievements was his vision for the west front of the cathedral where glass doors now symbolise the cathedral’s openness to the city,” he said.
“Keith has been instrumental in the appointment of Canon Paul Greenwell as Precentor to inspire worship at the Cathedral and more recently Canon Elizabeth Sewell as Canon Educator.
“Our task now is to honour Keith by continuing the work of mission and ministry which he has so successfully initiated.
“Suzanne and he have brought a sense of confidence and enthusiasm to the life of cathedral and diocese and we commend him now into God’s care.”