Vicar Allergic to Lilies Forced Out of Job

Why? Because he cannot conduct funerals.

Rev Ian Gobey has always found conducting funeral services difficult because floral tributes on coffins are often made up of lilies.

Now, after six years as vicar of Westbury on Severn, nr Gloucester, he has said farewell to his parishioners at the age of 64.

He said he had been advised to step down by his doctor. He had planned to continue working till he was 68 or 69.

“I am leaving earlier than I wanted,” he said. “It’s a shame because I enjoy so many aspects of the job and have made some good friends.

“But you have got to be realistic and accept your health is not very good.”

A former planning officer at Stroud district council, Glos, he was ordained 16 years ago and became well known in the parish for his lily allergy.

He said he will continue living in the vicarage for the time being and hopes to restore himself to full health with plenty of dog walks in the open air with his Collie Matthew.

Last summer his lily allergy caused problems at a wedding when the bridegroom’s mum wore a lily buttonhole.

Hetty Pritchard had been horrified when she collected the arrangement on the day of the wedding and saw that a lily was the centrepiece instead of an orchid, as she had ordered.

“The florist had made a mistake so I thought I would have to take the buttonhole off in the church – but Rev Gobey said it was all right as long as I wasn’t standing anywhere near him,” she said at the time.

Rev Gobey’s worsening allergy to lilies has been regularly mentioned in the church magazine and local florists and undertakers are all aware of it so that they can advise people against lilies.

“Any strong perfume in a confined space affects me but I find lilies have a very sickly scent,” said the vicar.

“I cannot breathe and it gets so bad I pass out.

“The worst time of the year is Easter when there are lots of lilies about.”