Former church minister, the Reverend Stanley Whiffen, has died at the age of 81.

Stanley, who was a regular worshipper at All Saints' Church in Hartford and the St Ives Free Church, died peacefully at home in Desborough Road, Hartford, on Saturday (May 16) surrounded by his family.

Stanley was born in Plaistow, east London on September 29, 1933. He contracted polio as a child and as a result was not evacuated during the war but stayed with his parents in the East End, in his own words "playing and exploring bomb sites".

His life in the church began when his aunt took him to the Methodist church in Custom House and by the age of 14 Stanley was a Sunday school teacher there. One of his class was a 12-year-old girl called Rosemary - the girl with whom he would fall in love and spend the rest of his life.

Stanley became a trainee photographer and then an apprentice draughtsman at Tate & Lyle in east London. But by the time the couple married in 1954 Stanley knew his calling was to God and he trained for the ministry at Paton Congregational College, Nottingham.

He was ordained and inducted at his first church, Dalston and Rectory Road Congregational Church in 1960, the same year as the couple's first son Martin was born.

After Rosemary gave birth to twins Andrew and Peter in 1966, Stanley and his young family moved to a new ministry in Colchester, Essex and over the coming years he served as minister at further churches in Spalding and Kettering.

He retired in 1992 and later moved to Huntingdon, where he and Rosemary became active members of the congregation at Hartford.

Stanley's other passion in life was boats - over the years he built or owned everything from 10ft dinghies to 42ft narrowboats and one of his purest joys was skippering a craft along a serene canal. He also loved art and was proud at the age of 70 to gain a BA (Hons) History of Art degree with the Open University in 2003.

Stanley's life will be remembered at a special service at St Ives Free Church at 2.30pm on Wednesday, June 3. He is survived by his wife Rosemary and sons Martin, Andrew and Peter.