Nicholas Martin Cavender (5 February 1947 - 31 July 2015) was a former member of Axbridge C.C, better known as Martin Cavender.
Martin Cavender, who died aged 68, was one of the most charismatic evangelists who never wore a dog collar; his background was as a West Country solicitor specialising in ecclesiastical work, but it was as an evangelist with a gift for preaching – a combination of encouragement and dynamism – that he gained renown.
He was the first layman to preach in Westminster Abbey at a bishop’s consecration. Having asked an eminent churchman who loved his style what tone might be suitable, Cavender received the reply: “Give us both barrels.” Cavender obliged, concluding his address with a prayer “written by a friend of mine who is… banged up in Dartmoor Prison”.
On behalf of the Church of England’s evangelical initiative Springboard, Cavender established links with Church groups around the world. He was sent to help rewrite the Church’s constitution in Rwanda after that country’s genocide.
His delight in people left, as one churchman put it, “a fragrance of love and joy wherever he went”. He was a founder member of the Archbishops’ College of Evangelists, and holder of the Cross of St Augustine, presented exceptional service to the Anglican Communion.
Nicholas Martin Cavender was born at Keynsham, near Bristol, on February 5 1947. One of five sons of an executive at the Co-operative, he was educated at Taunton School. After serving his articles in Bath he joined the law firm Harris & Harris in Wells.
He was appointed registrar of the diocese of Bath and Wells in 1977, becoming a well-known character in the city, and dispensing free legal advice — and lawyer jokes — to a stream of grateful clergymen who came to his office. He also served as Chapter Clerk to Wells Cathedral. His conversion to Christianity happened one evening in 1984 at his kitchen table while dining with friends. When referring to this life-changing event, he would often cite words from a Wesleyan hymn: “My chains fell off, my heart was free / I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” With a new spring in his step, he resigned as diocesan registrar in 1992. He had become a friend of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, George Carey. Dr Carey, when he became Archbishop of Canterbury, was concerned to give a more outward-looking and evangelistic slant to the Church of England.