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Photo of John Aves

The John Aves Education Project seeks the advancement of education for the public benefit by offering undergraduate grants to the disadvantaged young people from Dheisheh Palestinian Refugee Camp and its vicinity in Bethlehem who demonstrate academic and community achievements but whose financial and social situation hinders them from pursuing undergraduate study within Palestinian universities. From 2007 to October 2020 we have raised £413030 and funded 57 young people which has enabled them to achieve an undergraduate degree.

John was visiting the Holy Land in 2003/2004 as part of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). He enjoyed the dialogue with both the Israeli and Palestinian communities and was preparing to spend the last two weeks of his three month term at the Mar Saba Monastery outside Bethlehem. Tragically John died suddenly in Bethlehem. John was a man of faith who was filled with hope in mankind. He wrote the following just a day before his untimely death at the age of 52.



Foreword from the Retired Bishop of Norwich written in 2004


John Aves was one of those clergy whom bishops treasure.  Loved by the people of his parish, he had an infectious joy about him which attracted people to the Christian faith.  He also had immense curiosity.  He wanted to know how other people lived.  That is what led him to spend the last three months of his life in the Holy Land.  Not that we expected it to be the last three months of his life at all.  He went on a special programme but found he wasn’t getting close enough to the Palestinian people.  He ended up living in a refugee camp and in an astonishing short period of time became their honoured guest and confidante. 

We were preparing for John’s return.  I knew he would want to create fresh links between the diocese of Norwich and the people with whom he had been working.  It was a huge shock to know that he had died suddenly.  His memory was treasured not just in Norwich and Norfolk but in the Holy Land too.

The John Aves Education Project is more than just a memorial to a remarkable priest.  It builds on what happened in the last three months of John’s life and is a testimony to his passion for education. 

Already the first young student from the Dheisheh camp is at the City University in London following a course in Norwich.  Now there are plans for assisting more young people to be the leaders of tomorrow in their communities by supporting their education in Palestine/Israel itself.

The project began in a small way but it is growing and providing not just links between the Holy Land and people in Norfolk but building bridges in Palestine/Israel too.  We think John would approve.  We pray that God will bless what we are doing.

Bishop of Norwich

Microsoft Office document icon John's last report30 KB