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"Her witness will inspire a generation to follow Jesus, whatever the cost": Tributes paid following tragic death of church leader

by Heather Preston
Guy-and-Hazel.jpg - Banner image
Hope Church

Tributes have poured in for an "inspirational" Christian church leader who has died in Plymouth, prompting a police murder investigation.

Hazel Huggins, 53 who was a member of the leadership team at Hope Church in Dawlish was found dead over the weekend.

Police attended the scene on Saturday afternoon, following reports of concern for a women's welfare at a local property.

Her church community has described the loss as “heart-breaking,” saying: "the church has been devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of a much-loved member of the congregation."

"Tributes were paid to Hazel on Sunday (30.07.23) reflecting her enormous contribution to the church and wider community. We are supporting her family during this heart-breaking time and would ask that they are left in peace as they attempt to deal with their grief." Hope Church Dawlish has said in a statement.

Hazel, alongside her husband Guy, led the ministry Pastors' Pad - providing respite and care to Christian leaders in front-line ministry across the UK. She also volunteered for the community engagement charity Redeeming Our Communities (ROC).

Debra Green ROC's Executive Director tells Premier: "There's just been an outpouring of love and prayers from across the UK, when tragic things happen this is where we see the church at its best.

"But I just wanted to be one of those just to say her life did count. She made such a wonderful difference to all the lives that she was connected to. But our hearts today go out to the community of Dawlish, to the Hope Church community, and especially to her husband and to her family and friends."

Through ROC Dawlish, Hazel provided support in local schools. ROC Dawlish Co-ordinator and Hope Church leader Mark Jones described Hazel as an "inspirational leader", saying she "brought light and hope to all who met her."

"Her witness, example and memory will inspire a generation to follow Jesus whatever the cost," he added.

24-year-old Bradley Huggins has been charged with her murder, appearing before Plymouth Crown Court via videolink on Tuesday morning.

Mr Huggins is due to appear for a plea and trial preparation hearing in August. A trial date has been set for January 2024.

A tribute service to Hazel will take place at Hope Church Dawlish at 7pm on Tuesday.

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