By Daniel Welsh
It’s been an especially difficult few months for the former Communards musician, whose civil partner and fellow reverend David Coles died last year, at the age of 43, after a long illness.
Richard acknowledged this in a Twitter post marking his birthday, writing: “Fifty-eight, widowed, lonely, locked-down, straitened, and fat… but NO ONE can take my kippers.”
It’s my birthday: fifty-eight, widowed, lonely, locked-down, straitened, and fat – but NO ONE can take my kippers. pic.twitter.com/D6WWwpaWIM
— Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) March 26, 2020
It didn’t take long for Twitter to become awash with messages from both his celebrity fans and supporters, so much so that “Happy Birthday Richard” became the top trend in the UK…
Happy birthday Richard hope you have a lovely day @RevRichardColes x
— Rylan Clark-Neal (@Rylan) March 26, 2020
Happy Birthday Richard. You bring comfort & happiness to many, many people & we all hope you find a bit of both today. https://t.co/NzsfFbdhdR
— James O’Brien (@mrjamesob) March 26, 2020
Happy Birthday, Richard! ?
— Mark Gatiss (@Markgatiss) March 26, 2020
You missed out “much loved”. Happy birthday Richard
— Ian Betteridge ?? (@ianbetteridge) March 26, 2020
Happy birthday Richard, this should also read, intelligent, funny, loving, patient and kind and enjoy your kippers xx
— Ange T (@angiebearkheath) March 26, 2020
Happy birthday Richard & all happiness to you ×. This too shall pass & you will look back & smile one day. Keep putting 1 foot in front on the other ???♥️
— Carol (@carolst06907093) March 26, 2020
Happy Birthday Richard. What a lot you have been through, but you are loved by many ❤ https://t.co/j36Em5p0Ig
— Jo Ritson??❤?? (@JoRitson) March 26, 2020
Happy Birthday Richard. Your life is unique & valued even the painful bits. Love and many happy returns. You rock.
— Dominique Mylod (@DominiqueMylod) March 26, 2020
Happy birthday Richard. Enjoy your kippers and thankyou for being such a positive and kind influence on so many.
Love and light x
— Mike Armiger – Education, Mental Health & Sport (@MikeArmiger) March 26, 2020
Happy birthday Richard – this day will be terribly sad for you ( and birthday’s shouldn’t be!) but you will get through this too! A wonderful self-indulgent dinner with a very good single malt is an absolute must! Sending love ❤️
— Jo Pollitt (@JoPollitt5) March 26, 2020
Happy birthday Richard, enjoy those yummy kippers stay positive ? stay safe
— Stella Nicholas (@Stelmarnic) March 26, 2020
Happy Birthday Richard! My gift is to you is to know you’ve inspired me and many others in these last few months. I work in a hospice as an OT. ❤️
— Rhiannan Lewis (@happyrhia) March 26, 2020
It might not be the same but you are very popular on this website. Happy birthday Richard!
— Luke McGee (@lukemcgee) March 26, 2020
— Susan Hoath (@Suziebells) March 26, 2020
The celebrity vicar, who appeared on Strictly back in 2017, entered into a civil partnership with David after the Church of England allowed it in 2005.
He and David lived together with their dogs – dachshunds Daisy, Pongo, Audrey and Horatio – in the vicarage of St Mary’s in Finedon, Northamptonshire.
Richard often spoke with love about David and their life together, particularly on his Radio 4 show Saturday Live and during his appearances on Radio 2.
In 2005, Richard was ordained into the Anglican priesthood, and lived a celibate life with David, a curate in a neighbouring parish.
Earlier this month, Richard spoke about the grief he was feeling in the wake of David’s death, saying the loss had left his future feeling “blank”.
“I got in the other night,” he said, “and fed the dogs and lit a fire and cooked some supper. I got into my pyjamas and had a nightcap. I then looked at my watch and it was 10 past six.
“I’ve had to subtract David from the future and that has taken all the future with it. It’s a bit blank. I think: ‘What the fuck am I going to do? Play the accordion and go to bed at 10 past six, I guess. Of course, it’s not the end of my life. But it feels like it’s over sometimes.”