George Henderson spent the first part of his long life as a successful pharmacist in Glasgow, writes Peter Jennings. He was received into the Church in 1948 and following the death of his parents, he felt God calling him to a completely different vocation. In June 1963, at the age of 51, he entered the Benedictine community at Quarr Abbey, near Ryde on the Isle of Wight.
He began his noviciate on January 24, 1964. He made his First Profession in 1965, his Solemn Profession three years later, and was ordained priest on July 25, 1970.
His Abbot sent him to the Abbey of Vaals in Holland where he learnt the principles of bookbinding, becoming himself a considerable expert in the field. In November 1975 he was appointed monastic tailor at Quarr and not only made the monastic habits but complete sets of Mass vestments for all the priests of the monastery.
He acted as novice master from March 1980 until October 1981 and again between October 1987 and July 1991. He was sub-prior from October 1981 until 1992 when he became Prior for a short time. He showed great zeal for the Divine Office, sung six times a day at Quarr from Vigils at 5.30am until Compline at 8.30pm, and was for many years a cantor and member of the schola.
At various times Fr George helped in the guesthouse, where his wisdom and understanding were much appreciated by the visitors who came from far and wide. For a time he worked alongside Dom Joseph Warrilow, known to everyone as Father Joe, who was the guest master. Fr George had a love for walking in the hills and frequently went on walking holidays in the Highlands of Scotland and drew from these memories inspiration for many of his watercolours and oil paintings. An exhibition of his work, held in the crypt of the Quarr Abbey church during 2002 to mark his 90th birthday, attracted more than 1,500 visitors and brought Fr George great pleasure and satisfaction.
He died peacefully in Newport Hospital after a short illness. His Requiem Mass took place at Quarr on January 4. During the homily Abbot Cuthbert Johnson emphasised Fr George’s example of perseverance and fidelity to the monastic life.