The partner of Reverend Richard Coles has died after a long illness, the star vicar revealed today.
Rev Coles, 57, who partnered Jimmy Somerville in the 1980s band The Communards before being ordained in 2005, said Reverend David Coles, 42, passed away having been ‘ill for a while’.
The celebrity vicar, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017, entered into a civil partnership with David after the Church of England allowed it in 2005 – but they were celibate.
Reverend Richard Coles has revealed his partner David (left) has died in a moving tweet posted this morning
Rev Coles was in The Communards with Jimmy Sommerville and they made millions from a string of hit singles before he turned to God
The couple, who lived together in the vicarage of St Mary’s in Finedon, Northamptonshire, revealed the sad news on Twitter this morning and posted a moving picture of them together.
Reverend David Coles with Mary Berry recently – he met Richard when he went to watch him preach and they were in a celibate relationship
He wrote: I’m very sorry to say that Rev David Coles has died. He had been ill for a while. Thanks to the brilliant teams who looked after him at Kettering General Hospital. Funeral details to follow’.
He then quoted Isaiah 60:20: ‘The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended’.
The couple lived together with their dogs and Richard often spoke with love about David and their life together, particularly on his Radio 4 show: Saturday Live.
In 2005, Richard was ordained into the Anglican priesthood, and lived a celibate life with David Oldham, a curate in a neighbouring parish.
They met when Oldham went to hear Coles preach in Norwich and fell in love.
Church of England rules dictating the celibacy of ministers in civil partnership coincided with their own sex life ‘fading away’. They share a bed and would kiss but nothing more, Rev Coles said in his 2014 autobiography.
Coles says there is ‘nothing creditable in the Church of England’s position on gay relationships . . . the Church should repent of its hostility to homosexual people and beg forgiveness for its treatment of the gay community’.
He told the Mail in 2017, around the time he was in Strictly, that he and David had hopes to move from their Northamptonshire home when they get older.
He said: ‘I’d like to retire and live in Scotland near the sea, with David and the dogs, never answer another email, and sort of pootle around. That’s what I’d like to do. I want to look at the sea.’
The couple said they had struggled to be gay in the Church of England, describing it as ‘colluding with a homophobic institution’ but said their faith meant it was worth the sacrifice
Reverend Coles appeared on Strictly in 2017 and lived a happy life with his partner David, who worked in a neighbouring parish
In his previous life Rev Coles had been the instrumentalist half of the Eighties pop duo The Communards, who had a Number One single Don’t Leave Me This Way, and a number of other hits which made him millions.
He grew up in Northamptonshire and his parents, who were shoe manufacturers, sent him to a minor public school where he was a chorister and, to his horror, realised he was gay.
In his late teens he took a drug overdose, partly because in the Seventies being homosexual ‘was like being a paedophile now — it was a life which seemed to offer only disgrace’.
Coles moved to London where he met Jimmy Somerville, the Scot who became his singing partner in The Communards. Success came fast and they had the UK’s biggest-selling single of 1986.
But Coles was not entirely at ease with this sudden fame. He felt he was the gawky, bespectacled, musically trained geek who physically towered over the extrovert Somerville, but was otherwise lost in his friend’s shadow.
Friction grew, and it was against this backdrop of drug-fuelled rowing that Coles invented the deception that he was HIV positive which eventually drove him towards God.
But Jimmy and Richard have since made up and said recently: ‘We’re in the best place we’ve been in for a long time. We’re in touch by email and have a very sweet, revived relationship.’
Richard has been inundated with thousands of messages of condolences from friends and well-wishers