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Navy loses a ‘true friend’ with sudden death of former Chaplain of the Fleet

Formal portrait of The Reverend Martyn Gough QHC  Outside St Ann's Church, Portsmouth Naval Base
5 May 2023
Tributes have been paid to the Navy’s former most senior chaplain, the Venerable Martyn Gough, who has died at the age of 57.

Martyn served the Navy and nation for nearly a quarter of a century, latterly as the Service’s most senior Anglican, and as Chaplain of the Fleet.

It crowned a naval career which began in 1998 and saw extensive service at home and aboard, from the front line with troops in Afghanistan to the day-to-day work of the Fleet in frigates, survey vessels and carriers.

Originally from South Wales, Martyn was educated at the University of Wales, Cardiff, and St Stephen’s House, Oxford.

After ordination in the Diocese of Llandaff, he served in parishes in South Wales before being appointed at the same time to a position in the European Union in Northern Italy and as Chaplain of Milan and Genoa. 

A proud Welshman, he was wonderfully affable individual with a great sense of fun. As a priest, he was an enormously faithful and committed man. As a chaplain, he loved nothing better that to be surrounded by sailors and was truly a friend and advisor to all on board.

Chaplain of the Fleet, the Ven Andrew Hillier

He joined the Royal Navy in 1998 and spent much of his early ministry working in Devonport, deploying with the base’s Type 22 frigate flotilla.

He was also ‘bish’ – as chaplains are affectionately known across the Royal Navy – aboard aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and served as Chaplain to the Hydrographic Squadron.

Ashore, posts included Amport House (the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre), RNAS Culdrose, Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth and HMS Drake in Plymouth.

In 2013-14 he was appointed as the Forces’ senior chaplain in Afghanistan before returning to the UK first as Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet and, from August 2018, Chaplain of the Fleet and Archdeacon for the Royal Navy. That same year he was also appointed a Queen’s Honorary Chaplain.

“Martyn was an enormous character,” said his successor as Chaplain of the Fleet, the Ven Andrew Hillier. “The entire Naval Chaplaincy Service grieves his death, as we pray for Amanda and the children in their grief.”

The Rev Scott Brown, the convener of the Church of Scotland’s Committee on Chaplains to HM Forces, and Chaplain of the Fleet between 2010 and 2014, added: “Martyn was a faithful priest, pastor and friend"

“He was always supportive of the Church of Scotland and we will miss his support, wisdom and friendship. We remember Amanda, his wife, and their children in our prayers.”

Away from the RN, the father-of-two enjoyed art, literature, skiing and especially renovating his home in Wiltshire’s Chalk Valley with his wife Amanda.

Although he left the Navy in 2021, he continued to champion the Services as National Chaplain to the Royal British Legion, officiating at that year’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

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