Obituaries 2009

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(In alphabetical order of surname.)

Mrs Doreen Bussell [USPG Assam and Ranchi, 1952 – 1971] died on September 6th 2008, aged 86.

She trained as a nurse and midwife at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, and was appointed as a missionary by SPG in 1952.  She served at St Luke's Hospital, Chabua, in the Diocese of Assam until 1958.

Then, after a few years in England to give family care, during which time she also married, she was re-appointed by SPG in 1962. With her husband, Eric, she returned to India to work in Chota Nagpur Diocese, first in the Blind School, Ranchi and then from 1964 until 1971 at St Luke's Hospital.

On their return to England Doreen continued working as a District Nurse in Nottingham.  After Eric's death she retired to Tenby and latterly to St Monica's in Bristol. She was a totally devoted Christian and a shining and joyous light to all who met her.

 

SEileen Butterfieldister Eileen Butterfield

Sister Eileen Butterfield died on December 26th 2008, aged 92.  She served as a missionary of the USPG in India from 1947 to 1976 first in Nandyal and then moved to Sevananda Ashram, Nandikotkur in Rayalaseema Diocese. In 1954 she joined the Sisterhood of the Church of South India and wore the uniform – white sari with blue border for official occasions or blue dress or sari with deeper blue border for everyday wear. 

She was always involved with people – whether looking after children in a boarding home, camping in villages with Bible women, arranging Bible studies for nurses and hospital staff, pastors and presbyters, or visiting patients.

 As Diocesan Treasurer first in Jammalamadugu and then in Cuddapah she was involved in not only paying salaries to presbyters but sought to raise these payments and worked out a pension scheme. 

 For her final term in India (1972 – 1976) she lived in Vishranthi Nilayam, Bangalore, the Mother House of the CSI Sisters as well as the Central House of the Women’s Fellowship, first as Assistant Warden and then as Warden.  There too, as well as arranging retreats and conferences, she was involved in property work – supervising new buildings.

Eileen was a wonderful person, a great friend with a lovely smile and infectious gentle laugh. She faced many health problems throughout her life and many difficulties in her work but was strengthened by her strong faith.          

 

Mary Edmunds  

Mary Edmunds grew up in Meopham in Kent.  She was educated at Gravesend Grammar School where she gained a scholarship to Bedford College, London University.  That was in 1941 and was also when Bedford was evacuated to Cambridge.  She read Classics gaining an Honours degree.  During that time she felt called to Missionary service and offered to CMS.  However, they said teaching experience was needed first.  After receiving her teaching diploma she taught for 2 years at a Grammar School in York. 

 In 1947 Mary was accepted by CMS for training at Foxbury, (at that time the CMS training college for women).  After three terms she was sent to India to the state of Bihar.  Mary was in India from 1948 to 1979.  Her main work was with the Santal tribe.  She was fluent in Hindi and Santali and also knew some Urdu and Sanskrit.  She taught in St Thomas Girls School, Basharwa and ran the school hostel.  Mary was one of a group of missionaries working in different parts of India who wanted to practise God's presence in their busy lives and needing mutual support founded the Companions of Brother Lawrence in 1960.

 Mary returned to England before reaching retirement age to care for her mother and spent some time working at CMS headquarters.  After her mother's death she went to live in Bognor Regis with her friend Brenda Richards.  In the last few years Mary was fairly handicapped.  She never expressed any self-pity, meeting whatever came with fortitude and undiminished faith.  The large number of people attending her funeral was a testimony to her. 

 

Miss Olive Fuller

Olive Fuller died on 4th November 2008.  Olive was a Canadian and had worked with the Dohnavur Fellowship.  She inaugurated the programme of village evangelism whereby small groups of 3 or 4 members of the Fellowship lived an extremely basic life in villages, sharing rural poverty and the gospel with their neighbours.  Olive also led weekly classes at the Nagalapuram Women’s Work Training Centre for young village girls.  Her memorial service on 21st November “was a time of grateful memories of a person who lived her entire life for others, for the Lord’s sake”.

 

The Revd Arthur Cecil Monsarrat Hargreaves [CMS 1952 – 1976 and General Secretary of the Conference of British Missionary Societies 1976-79] Died June 4th 2009, aged 90

Cecil was born in February 1919, in Neston in Cheshire and grew up in what seems to be have been a very happy house with his sisters Katherine (here today) and Joyce, and his older brother John.

His first career, one might say, was as a musician. I've often cherished the story about how his first school had to sing the same hymn every Monday morning, because the teacher who usually played the piano had not yet arrived back from her weekend away, and her stand-in pianist, Cecil, aged six, only knew one hymn.  Later, at Rugby school, his piano-playing became somewhat legendary.  As a teenager he performed with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the world-famous Solomon. We will hear something from this era later on. Just as war was breaking out he studied the piano in Montreux with Mlle Ribeau Pierre – a source of more phrases and comic French pronunciation in our family in later years than she could know. Had other things not intervened he might well have gone on to be a full-time musician. As it was, he continued to play the piano down the years, whether it was at home quietly for his own pleasure or accompanying students in India on their instruments for their music exams. All this made us a very musical family, and gave him great pleasure and at times of difficulty, comfort.

When the war did come, Cecil was just starting as an undergraduate in Cambridge and was called up. He made the difficult decision to be a conscientious objector – difficult too within a family where his father had fought and been wounded in the trenches in the first world war. As a result he ended up in the RAMC, the medical corps. His convoy was diverted from Singapore when it fell to the Japanese and as a result he found himself for the first time in India. His story in recent years has been that when his group arrived in Bombay the authorities didn't quite know where to put them all so asked where they would like to go, and he and a pal thought the Khyber Pass sounded pretty dashing, so went up there and spent some time there, including a memorable incident when he was part of operating on the Viceroy's leg in Peshawar. He kept an interest in this area, now Pakistan, and only a few weeks ago he and I were talking here about the unrest in the Swat valley.

Eventually, however, he was sent across to the other side of India, and became part of the forgotten army who worked their way down the jungles from eastern India through Burma. It was here that he saw the evidence of the huge (though almost unknown at the time) famine in Bengal in 1943. He has talked quite recently of the effect that seeing the river clogged with bodies had on him. This played a major part in his decision, as he put it, to write to the Surgeon-General in Delhi to say that he wanted to be considered for ordination.

Back in England, after the war, he was indeed ordained, and after a period as a curate to Katherine's husband Edmund in Wembley, decided that he wanted to go back to India as a missionary. As a result he spent most of the 1950s teaching at Bishop's College in Calcutta, where I know he made many friends and enjoyed living in India. He, and later Mum, shared over many years a love of India: its differences, its fun, its frustrations, perhaps most, its opportunities. This was the place that they both, separately, chose to spend most of their working lives, and there are some ways of both of them that I think you can only really understand by seeing them as an Indian way of doing things.

In 1960 Dad was recalled back to London to be Asia Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, responsible for overseeing CMS's programme of hundreds of people in the field across Asia  medical people and teachers as well as clergy. He spent much of this decade travelling  to Japan, to Iran, that he was fond of talking about again in recent years. Whenever we suggested in recent years that we go abroad on holiday, he would always say that he felt he did quite enough travelling in this period. I think he enjoyed very much supporting all these activities,  rather more perhaps, than working in an office in London  though I believe he was always said to be a good chairman of a committee.

I was not around yet but I think everyone had pretty much given up on the idea of Cecil getting married when, working for the church in India again in 1970, he met  Catriona, working as a Church of Scotland missionary based in Bombay and Pune. They were married in 1972 and another new chapter in Dad's life opened up: as a family man and father to all of us, first in Purley, and then in Marden in Kent during the 1980s.

I think Dad loved being a father: one correspondent who wrote to me this week said that they remember him as the loudest of all of us when he was playing with us as children. To us, he was always kind, available and interested in doing fun things with us: never not available to be with us. Our family holidays in Scotland were particularly fun – something we all enjoyed at the time, and look back on very fondly, as I know he also did when we talked about them again just recently.

He tried also, with varying degrees of success, to instil in us a love of some of the things that he had enjoyed so much: music, mountain climbing (our family holidays were just hill walking but in his day he had loved much more serious mountaineering)), water-colour painting (he was very good and enjoyed painting scenes, especially of the Himalayas and in Scotland ) and poetry. 

He also found himself as a parish priest for the first time in the 1980s, in Marden. Throughout his life, his Christian ministry was supportive, calm and encouraging, never aggressive, but also determined.  I know he found the round of supporting people around us in the village through all their happinesses and difficulties, both challenging and rewarding, and I know that his ministry was much valued and loved by those in the parish. 

Another minister who wrote to me this week spoke of their potential concern at preaching to a congregation which included Cecil and being relieved by 'how lightly he wore his scholarship, '  and indeed it can be easy to forget that he was also an academic.  He started off at Trinity Hall, Cambridge before the war on classics, but coming back afterwards to complete his degree, he took Part II of his Tripos in Theology, completing the two year course in eighteen months and getting a first.

After ordination training at Westcott House,  and despite the famous incident of Princess Margaret and the coal bucket,  he was a college lecturer at Bishop’s College in Calcutta. As well as theology, he particularly taught New Testament Greek, including writing a textbook. He also wrote commentaries on various books of the bible, as did his brother John who had a long missionary career in Africa – leading  to the incident (which Dad, typically, would do everything self-effacingly short of actually denying was true) only a few years ago where someone looking to collect books on the bible for Christians in India and Africa to say simply that they would like "anything written by John or Cecil Hargreaves". His books included also Asian Christian thinking, as well as a short book looking at the architecture of 25 different Indian  churches.

After a further stint teaching at UTC, United Theological College, in Bangalore in the 1970s, later in the 1970s in London he was part of the team working on the new translation which became the New Jerusalem Bible. Looking up this work this week I see the editor commented that he "was responsible for a number of very clever ideas". After retirement from Marden he enjoyed finally being able to write "A Translator's Freedom", on the challenges of translation, and also two volumes of Readings of Asian Christian Thought. More recently, just last year, The Nazareth Route was published, the fruit of much of his work and very wide reading over recent years, living in Purley.

He found much to enjoy in retirement, happily the first part of it with Mum, before she passed away in 1995. His own health was very good until just the last three years or so, which meant he was able to carry on walking on mountains until not long ago, and then around home. I reminded him just a couple of weeks ago of the interview he gave when he retired from Marden in 1986 saying typically modestly that he thought it was time to hand over to a younger man, when the young man from the local radio pointed out that he had just climbed Ben Nevis on summer holiday. He was immensely strong: surviving a major life-threatening illness which killed many others in 1939, and then having malaria no less than nine times across his years in India.

Dad had a wonderful life. He saw so much, enjoyed so much, gave so much – cheerful, serious, active, mischievous, modest, retiring, warm, encouraging, wise and immensely loving – and perhaps above all, kind. We will all miss him so much – but can surely be so thankful for what he gave us all.

Jeremy Hargreaves

Mrs Agnes Padma Hilton

Agnes Padma Hilton died in Delhi on October 25th 2008 aged 69.   She and her husband were the first missionaries sent and supported by the Friends Missionary Prayer Band in Thiruverumbur.  Born in 1939 in Ceylon, she settled with her Hindu parents to Madurai.  She became a Christian whilst studying at High School and became a teacher after completing a Missionary Training Course in Chennai.  Padma and Harris Hilton ministered in Periamalai and later moved to Madhya Pradesh state where they worked in Datia, Jhopet, Mekenagar and Alirajapur  In 1980 they were sent to Bethel Bible Institute in Salem for one year in-service training.

 

The Rt Revd Arthur William Luther

In 1957 Bishop Arthur William Luther was consecrated the first Indian Bishop of Nasik Diocese in the former Church of India, Pakistan and Ceylon.  In 1970 at the inauguration of the Church of North India he became Bishop of Bombay and Kolhapur.  After his retirement from episcopal ministry he was the North India Secretary for the Leprosy Mission until 1981 when he retired due to suffering a severe stroke.   He was most lovingly cared for by his wife, Dr Kamal Luther who had been the first President of the Women’s Fellowship for Christian Service, until her death a few years ago.   Bishop Arthur died on January 25th 2009 in Puna aged 89.  Bishop Arthur was a man full of strength and wisdom, greatly loved and admired by his many friends.   He was always approachable – truly a people’s bishop. No matter how hard and difficult the circumstances, the joy of the Lord always emanated from his face. Many drew great inspiration from him.

Jean Clark

 

The Revd Dr Tom H Lyle

The Revd Dr Tom H Lyle was born in Gujarat to missionary parents in 1921.   He was educated at Campbell College, Belfast and Trinity College Dublin.  He married Sheila in 1949 and they sailed to Bombay in 1950 to serve with the Irish Presbyterian Mission in Gujarat.  He worked in a Student Hostel in his first term, then on the staff of Gujarat United School of Theology.  Later, under the auspices of the Bible Society, he worked with the Revd Jayanand Chowhan on a new translation of the Gospels into Gujarati.  In his final term in India he was an administrator in the transfer of property from the I.P. Mission to the Gujarat Diocese of the CNI.   After returning to Ireland in 1972 Tom served in several congregations on both sides of the Border. He retired from ministry in 1986.  He died on March 7th 2008.

 

RoyMansonThe Revd Roy Lawson Manson [Church of Scotland 1955-1968. CSI Madras Diocese].  Died on April 4th 2009, aged 82.

On Maundy Thursday 2009 Thanksgiving Services were held for the life of Rev Roy Lawson Manson at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh and at The Lanthorn Centre in Livingston. Roy was aged 82 when he died and the following are three of the reflections given at the Thanksgiving Services.

Words spoken by Murdoch MacKenzie at Mortonhall Crematorium

Roy and Noreen, Andrew, Lindsay Peter, John and their families are very special to all of us here this morning, not least to Anne and myself. When we arrived in India in 1966, with a six month old baby, Roy and Noreen took us under their wing and have been like parents to us ever since. So this is a sad day but a glad day with many wonderful memories of the villages around Kancheepuram, of St Andrew’s Church in Egmore, of Roy baptising our second child Catriona in the Kirk, of the Madras Association of the Deaf, of the Friend in Need Society, of The British Ex-Services and Commonwealth League, (for all of which Roy worked extremely hard – even travelling all over India for the BCEL) of Handel Manuel and the Choir, of Johnnie Samuel –  Session Clerk par excellence, of mission bungalows in Kodaikanal (when taking these over from Roy I asked him if we could trust Mr Henry who looked after the houses for us and Roy in his wisdom simply said: “You have to trust someone.” In fact Mr Henry was a lovely person and many years later, on a visit to India, we visited him in Kodai when he was 100 years old and his grand-daughter was running a computer college in Kodai!), of Pillar Rocks and Bear Shola and above all of Roy who was a big man, with a big heart and a big smile, and big hands, and a big chuckle and eyes which twinkled with fun and, perhaps most important of all, with compassion.

Joe Goodridge writes of Roy’s wisdom, pastoral care and fine Biblical teaching and the fact that he could take a cat-nap in the time that it took Noreen to make and pour out a cup of coffee. Roy Newell writes of Roy lassoing a con-man with his cassock girdle as he chased him across the Kirk compound! Many others among the poor and destitute of Kancheepuram and Madras could have written of how Roy sat down beside them and shared, really shared, in their joys and sorrows.

Eileen, Roy and I, and others here this morning, were ordained in the Church of God in St George’s Cathedral Madras, as Presbyters of the Church of South India. Being in this ecumenical, united Church meant a great deal to Roy. In 1959 he led St Andrew’s Kirk into the Church of South India, a modest congregation with a huge dilapidated building. When he and Noreen left eight years later the congregation had grown fourfold, the 166 foot spire had been completely restored, and, unlike any other minister before or since, Roy actually climbed up the final stretch of unprotected ladder to touch the onion dome at the very top. (He was very proud of this and often talked about it. It was certainly not something that any but the most intrepid would want to do.)

But as Roy wrote in 1997 on the occasion of St Andrew’s 175th Anniversary: “What I want you always to remember is that – however much we love this old building, it is not the building which makes you a Church, but you, the people of God who worship, pray and serve God, in obedience to his word, there. It is you, who as a fellowship, and in your homes and your communities, and at your work, seek to obey Christ’s command to love one another – that’s what truly marks you out as Jesus’ disciples. ‘This is my commandment to you,’ said Jesus, ‘that you love one another.’ (John 15) ‘I pray that they may all be one; as you Father are in me and I in you, so also may they be in us that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17)

Appropriately enough, these words, like the words of our Gospel reading this morning, were first spoken by Jesus in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. And so on this Maundy Thursday, we say to Noreen and the family, not to let your hearts be troubled. There are many rooms in our Father’s house and beyond Good Friday there is Easter morning. And so, to the Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today, for Roy, for his faithfulness, for his inspiration, for his love of Jesus and of us, and we pray that his soul may rest in peace.  Amen.

Words spoken by Georgina Nelson at the Lanthorn Centre Livingston

The human person is a wonderful combination of the physical, the mental, the social and the spiritual. I am delighted to have been asked to say a few words in appreciation of Roy as a hospital chaplain, and so let me begin by quoting from a sermon preached by the bishop of Gloucester at a service to mark the 60th anniversary of the NHS: “a divine design beyond compare. To heal the sick and to make people healthy is a vocation, a collaboration with the God from whom all health and wholeness comes.” 

I feel sure that Roy would have said a heartfelt AMEN to these words, both in their high respect for the mystery of persons bearing the image of God, and also in their description of the art of healing as a God-given vocation. “It’s a great job,” he said to me, beaming and twinkling in that inimitable way of his, on the evening of my introduction as chaplain to St John’s, fourteen years ago. And in the many conversations we have had since then, some of them when Roy was a patient in hospital as his own health began to falter, he never failed to inspire me with a sense that to be a hospital chaplain was a vocation, a privilege and a joy. As it had been for him. 

Roy’s connection with the Royal Edinburgh psychiatric hospital goes back to the 1950’s, when he was studying. He took a job there, perhaps as what was called a warder in those far off days, or perhaps as an orderly; memories fade a little. Many years and many journeys later, in 1985, with a wealth of pastoral experience behind him, and a knowledge of all sorts and conditions of men and women, Roy applied for the post of assistant chaplain. “Much to my surprise” he told me later, with characteristic modesty, “I got the job”. From then on, until he retired, Roy served the hospital community as assistant chaplain under Murray Leishman, and then as chaplain. They were happy years for Roy, happy too for those who worked with him. Alison Wagstaff who succeeded him as assistant, remembers Roy with great fondness; and his successor as chaplain, Murray Chalmers, established a lasting friendship with him. 

What sort of chaplain was Roy? Well, picture a man who is so much at ease in his role, and so much at home with staff and patients, that sometimes he comes in, sits down, and gently falls asleep in their midst. Everybody knows him, and he has a word for everybody. He is approachable, easy to talk to, and his warmth and enthusiasm are infectious. He goes round the hospital singing; hymns sometimes, sometimes extracts from the classics. Even standing in the coffee queue, he sings. Once, one of the nurses draws a picture of him as a teddy bear in a round collar.

Which says a lot about how Roy came over; but it doesn’t tell the whole story.  The joviality was genuinely part of him; but Roy was also a person of shrewd perception, of careful discernment, someone who had a profound empathy with the distresses and anxieties of the human condition. His own sense of the adventure of living helped people to hold on to hope, when hope seemed hard to hold. He also had a way of helping patients stay grounded, stay in touch with reality, without ever patronising them or putting them down. Roy was respected, because he respected others. He was genuine and he was wise. He was also good at delivering a hug at just the right time. And of course, underpinning everything else, there was a deep and humble spirituality. 

I remember a very senior chaplain telling us rookies at our introductory conference, that one of our main tasks was to keep the institution of the hospital warm and human. Nobody could have done that better than Roy. That is the kind of chaplain he was.

And his motivation? His motivation was love. Dr Sarah Eagger writes that healthcare professionals may feel uncomfortable with the word or the idea of love, preferring perhaps to describe the effect of love in the kind of work they do- care, compassion, consideration, kindness, mercy, empathy and sympathy. Roy would not have been uncomfortable with the word. He did what he did with love. His great experience and his many skills he employed in the service of love. And, as John Ruskin memorably wrote, “where love and skill combine, expect a masterpiece”.

Words spoken by Eileen Thompson, Roy and Noreen’s Minister in Livingston

(The tribute given at the Presbytery of West Lothian including words spoken by Suzanna Bates and Jim Galsworthy at The Lanthorn.)

In his long and varied ministry, Robert Lawson (Roy) Manson touched the lives of many people in unforgettable ways. Loving husband and father, parish minister, chaplain, wise friend, champion of those in need, Roy was all of these and much more. A mark of the man, though, was his humility. One of the instructions he left for his funeral was that he was to be Roy, simply Roy, a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ - and that in itself is a fitting obituary.

Roy was born in Alloa, one of two sons. After school and college, he joined the RAF. Like many young men, he had drifted from church but a casual invitation from one of his mates to ‘Jock’ to come to church parade brought him back and started him on the great journey of his life.

He offered for ministry and for overseas service and, newly married to Noreen, set off for India. For them, as for so many this was a life-changing experience. He was ordained into the newly formed Church of South India, a united church, and this confirmed for him the need for unity amongst Christians. John 17 was and remained for him a key passage.

But if India marked Roy, Roy marked India. Forty years on, he is remembered with affection and respect by the congregations of St Mary’s and St Andrew’s (the Kirk), Madras.  In his tribute, Murdoch MacKenzie spoke movingly of the Roy who worked with the poor through the Friends in Need group - and also of the Roy who used his cassock girdle as a lasso to apprehend a villain in the church compound. It was Roy who brought the Kirk into the fellowship of CSI and helped with its renovation, being the only pastor before or since to climb to the onion dome at the top of the spire.  With his colleagues too Roy was a pastor and friend, a senior missionary who listened and helped.

Returning to UK and to pastoral ministry in Scotland provided different challenges. The people of Slateford Longstone remember their time with Roy as minister as a blessed period, and churches such as St Michael’s and Juniper Green in Edinburgh felt gifted to have him as locum.

It was perhaps his chaplaincy work that brought him in touch with so many and touched so many lives. “It’s a great job,” he said to Georgina Nelson, beaming and twinkling in that inimitable way of his, on the evening of her introduction as chaplain to St John’s, fourteen years ago. And it remained so. In prison, in hospital, especially at the Royal Edinburgh Psychiatric Hospital, Roy found the right words or the right silence to get alongside people.  Indeed he was “so much at ease in his role, and so much at home with staff and patients,” said Georgina, “that sometimes he comes in, sits down, and gently falls asleep in their midst.” And he looked for ways of integrating that ministry into the wider church. It was his dream to have a drop in centre in church for patients released into the community. Sadly that was one thing he was not able to do.

In retirement Roy became for many of us the elder statesman, the model pastor and the wise friend. In the Livingston Ecumenical Parish, where he and Noreen settled, he found a church struggling to live out the journey to ecumenism that he had begun in India. He entered fully into the life of the parish, sharing his experience unobtrusively, helping with services, hosting Bible studies and coming out with words of wisdom when everyone thought he was asleep. Suzanna Bates recalls that Roy and Noreen were active supporters of most of the events in the parish and they would be found joining in or sitting and watching at ceilidhs and meals and sing-alongs - the latter a special favourite of Roy’s as he was known for his singing. For Jim Galsworthy, he was a pastor and friend, someone to go to for a balanced and caring view of what was happening. It was appropriate that we heard Roy’s granddaughter Jenny sing ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ as Roy indeed sought to follow the great shepherd all his life.

But Roy was more than the public figure we have mentioned here. He was a devoted husband and loving father and grandpa. When work threatened to take him away too much from time with his children, he made sure he took one day a week to devote to them. They played together and worked together, making boats and sailing in a variety of places. Swimming in the warm surf of Elliot’s Beach off the Bay of Bengal or bobbing, all six of them, in a tiny boat on the somewhat cooler waters of the Firth of Forth are abiding memories for Andrew and Roy’s other children.

And journeys, exploring, moving toward the horizon are part of who Roy was. He has talked for years of being ready for the next great adventure, his shorthand for death and what is beyond. He has now embarked on that. Whilst we miss his gentle presence, his reminiscences and his twinkling eyes as he shared who he was, we wish him godspeed on that adventure and we thank God for him.

He is survived by Noreen, his wife of over fifty years, Andrew, Lindsay, Peter and John  and his grandchildren. Our hearts go out to them in love and sympathy at this time.

At Mortonhall Crematorium Eileen read these words of Tagore

It was beautiful
As long as it lasted
The journey of my life

I have no regrets
Whatsoever save
The pain I’ll leave behind

Those dear hearts
Who love and care
And the heavy with sleep
Ever moist eyes
The smile in spite of a

Lump in the throat
And the strings pulling
At the heart and soul

The strong arms
That held me up
When my own strength
Let me down
Each morsel that I was
Fed with was full of love

At every turning of my life
I came across
Good friends
Friends who stood by me
Even when the time raced me by.
Farewell
Farewell
My friends

I smile and
Bid you goodbye
No, shed no tears
For I need them not
All I need is your smile

(Gitanjali)

 

The Revd Canon Reginald J Messenger

The Revd Canon Reginald J Messenger [USPG, 1942-1980.  Dioceses  of Lucknow and Agra] died on September 11th  2008, aged 95.  He was an SPG supported student from 1936 – 1939 and then served in the Diocese of Lucknow at Moradabad from 1942 – 1955 and at Nainital from 1956 – 1965.   His second appointment was in the Diocese of Agra from 1967 – 1980. From 1981 he served on the staff of USPG as part-time Area Secretary for the Diocese of Guildford until retirement in 1985.

 

Miss Phyllis Mitchell

Miss Phyllis Mitchell was born in Ingrow, Keighley on 6th November 1912, the third child in a family of seven children. She qualified as a teacher in 1933 and taught at Highfield Elementary School in Keighley until 1946. She also became a Local Preacher (1940) and joined the local "TocH" group.  She felt called to be a missionary and after a short period of training at Kingsmead sailed for India in 1947. After a time of acclimatisation she went to the language school at Bangalore in 1948 where she learnt Tamil and studied Hinduism. She was appointed to the Tiruchirappalli-Thanjavur Diocese of the Church of South India and carried out significant village development work in the Districts of Karur, Dharapuram and Mannargudi, reaching out especially to women and children.  Lively and friendly and with a jolly sense of humour, Phyllis mingled easily and was popular with both Indian and missionary colleagues. She returned to India after furloughs in 1952, 1958 and 1964. On these occasions at home she shared her experiences with enthusiastic listeners who were proud that an ordinary person from their area could make such an impact in evangelistic and community work so far away.

Returning finally to England in 1971 Phyllis had completed a quarter of a century of service in what was then termed “the mission field”. It was her sense of “the broader picture” and understanding of mission that helped make later developments of “World Church Partnerships” possible.

At her initial Valedictory Service at Wesley Place Methodist Church she was presented with books, cheques and a clock. The local newspaper records: “In a moving reply Miss Mitchell said she felt no sense of sacrifice in what she was doing. God's world was one, and men and women were needed everywhere. She was leaving this country not because there were no needs in England but because there were needs in India, and she made a strong and effective appeal for greater willingness to service”.

That service continued as a teacher in Bradford and in the life of local churches on her return from India in 1971. When she finally “retired” she moved into a bungalow near her family in Oakworth, was active as a Local Preacher and continued to speak at various gatherings throughout the area. She especially enjoyed visiting her many friends on holiday and meeting up with them at reunions in London.

In later years her eyesight deteriorated and she eventually needed the care of a nursing home but she never ceased to take an interest in what was happening around her and in the wider world. She was a very special “ordinary” person and died peacefully on 22 September 2008, age 95.   At a Service of Thanksgiving for her life held at Exley Head Methodist Church a collection was taken which has been set aside as a fund to assist others, especially young people, in their understanding of what it means to be "World Church".

 

Mr Stanley Mudd died on 19th January 2008 aged 85.  As a teacher he served with the Baptist Missionary Society at Union Christian College, Barapani, Assam (now Meghalaya) from 1953 to 1955 and in the Arts Department of Serampore College, Bengal from 1955 to 1957.   Transferred to Barisal in East Pakistan he kept contact with missionary colleagues in India, firstly through the Bengali Language School in Darjeeling, and subsequently through annual holidays in Darjeeling, until the seventeen day war between India and Pakistan in 1965 severed links.  From 1975 to 1987, as an assistant secretary at BMS HQ with responsibility for South East Asia, he made several visits to various parts of India and met representatives of other missions in the Church of North India.   After retirement he maintained a great concern for the church in India and much appreciated the annual FCI days.

 

Mr Alan Partridge [Church Missionary Society 1955-1969. Surgeon at Iyi Enu Hospital, near Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, latterly as Medical superintendent, 1955-1964. Radiologist at Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore 1967-1969] Died April 8th, 2009, aged 83.

Alan Partridge became lame at the age of 8 following a blood infection which destroyed his hip joint.  He was unable to take part in competitive sports but did almost everything else.  He won a major scholarship to Peterhouse Cambridge where he studied Natural Sciences and went on to become a lecturer in Astronomy, first at Cambridge and then in Edinburgh.  He had only been a few months in Edinburgh when he abandoned what looked like being a very distinguished career because he became sure that God was calling him to become a Medical Missionary and his professor arranged the swap over.

In Edinburgh he and Rena were both students at the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society's training hostel as she had had a similar calling. Later they went to Nigeria with the Church Missionary Society, serving for 9 years in a 150 bed hospital training general nurses and midwives, where Alan majored on surgery.  He had been a keen Meccano modeller since childhood and his engineering and constructional skills had full scope in his job of medical and general superintendent.

CMS advised that he should take specialist training and he chose radiology as being related to his earlier interest in Physics.  They came to Vellore with their three children in 1969 and he may be remembered by some of the alumnae for Alan's teaching sessions with LBM Joseph who has become a very special friend.  They spent only two years in Vellore as Alan's elderly father needed their care. But Alan did a 3 months locum in about 1980, and more recently, they have been out several times conducting parties of visiting Brits round Vellore and South India.

Alan worked as a Consultant Radiologist in Sutton Coldfield till retirement in 1990, and since then they have lived near their eldest son in Olney. There he has been able to pursue his special interests in Meccano, music, photography and stamp collecting.  Sadly he has been developing dementia over the past couple of years but we have been spared the long anguish of that condition because of a fall which fractured his femur and where surgery was followed by a chest infection.

Rena Partridge

Note:  the text of tributes paid at Alan’s funeral are available from Rena Partridge at: rena.partridge@googlemail.com

 

The  Revd Prof. Sudhir Sharma, Director of the Centre for Studies in Rural Development and the Institute of Social Work and Research in Ahmednagar, Church of North India died on March 7th, 2009 aged 57.

Prof. Sudhir Sharma, Director of Centre for Studies in Rural Development & Institute of Social Work and Research (CSRD & ISWR), Ahmednagar died of cardiac arrest at 9.30AM on 7th March 2009 at Pathak Hospital, Ahmednagar.  He was scheduled to go for a bypass surgery in Mumbai the next week.  He was 57 years old and his death came as a blasting shock not only to his family and colleagues but also to the whole of the Church of North India.

Prof. Sharma was deeply rooted in the church and was actively involved in its various activities.  In 2008 he was ordained to serve Christ Church at Walki in Ahmednagar district.  He has served as the Secretary for the Evaluation Commission and also as a member of Literature and Mass Communication Committee of the Church of North India.  With his death the Church of North India, particularly the Diocese of Nasik, has lost a committed and sincere leader. 

Prof. Sharma, born on 20th May 1952, had his early schooling at Shewgaon Village of Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra and later on graduated from Ahmednagar College.  He had been engaged in the field of Rural Development since 1976.  His association with CSRD & ISWR has been a long and steadfast one.  He had joined the Institute as a lecturer and in 1996 took over as the Director.  He evinced a keen interest in research particularly on rural development in his discipline.  He was a great writer as well and has more than 18 publications to his credit.  As Director of such a prestigious institute, Prof. Sharma has responsibly and successfully placed a phenomenally large number of students in various national and international institutions and NGOs.

Prof. Sharma had been involved with many committees, organizations and institutions.  He was the President of Help India, Pune; Secretary of Maharashtra Social Forum; Secretary of EARTH; Team Leader of Special Task Force for Central Social Welfare Board, New Delhi; Member of Advisory Committee on Nonconventional Energy Sources, Government of India, and Member of the Advisory Committee for Nehru Yuva Kendra, Ahmednagar.

He was a rare blend of an efficient administrator and an academician who had endeared himself to the hearts of one and all.  His students and colleagues always found him as a genuinely warm and loving person and he will be always remembered for his sincerity and collegiality.  His funeral took place at 6.00PM on 7th March 2009 in Ahmednagar.

Prof. Sharma is survived by his wife Shailada and two sons Harshad and Pritam.  We, in the Church of North India, grieve his death and join his bereaved family in mourning the loss. 

Rev. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan

 

The Revd Robin Sleigh died on 10th September 2008, aged 81. He was appointed to S India by the LMS in 1952 and was ordained in February 1953 in St Mark’s Cathedral, Bangalore, having studied at Mansfield College, Oxford. In 1961 he returned to UK and was in ministry and teaching for some years. In 1977 the CSI Diocese of Karnataka North invited him to return to initiate and lead a rural community & development programme, as he had worked in this field in the Kavutalam area in 1959-61. He was re-appointed by CWM and served in that Diocese from 1978-92 in and around Bellary. He is warmly remembered, along with his wife Muriel, who had also served with CWM there. In retirement in Exeter they were very active in Heavitree URC, and were keen gardeners. Robin was Hon. Agent in UK for South India Churchman and the CSI Life magazine.

 

Miss Mollie Smith

MollieSmith&twinsCMiss Mollie Smith [LMS/CWM CSI Rayalaseema Diocese] 1951-1981, Nursing Superintendent, Jammalamadagu, died on December 3rd 2008, aged 92.

For more than the last ten years of her life, dementia robbed Mollie of her true personality.  Those who only met her in her in those years can have no idea about the remarkable person she was.  It was our privilege to work along side her, and with Dr Ratnaraj and Dr Ratnamma from 1961 to 1973 in the Church of South India Hospital at Jammalamadugu, Andhra State, India.  From 1951 to 1981 Mollie was not only the Nursing Superintendent, but the most dynamic person there.  During her time, the hospital grew from 100 bed strength to over 250 and a School of Nursing was started.  She did more than any other person to keep the hospital on track and focused on its God-given ministry.  She taught scores of nurses and was a powerful role model for the whole staff.  Directly and indirectly she must have saved thousands of lives. 

She had a first class brain and coped with many medical emergencies better than most doctors.  Her love of, and loyalty to, the hospital staff were total, her fury at injustice was something to behold, her devotion to duty and capacity to work were beyond anything we have known.  She was consistently in the hospital before 6:30 a.m. to take the reports from the night staff as they went off duty.  She admitted to regularly working a 12 to 14 hour day, and if there were emergencies in the night, she would be there, to give an anaesthetic, to put up an intravenous drip, to help with an obstructed labour or to tube feed a tiny premature baby. 

Christmas was a special time at the hospital, and as she died just before Christmas it is appropriate to share part of an article she wrote about the festival.  The staff and their families eagerly awaited Christmas; they all received gifts of cloth for new shirts or saris.  There was a special feast of sheep curry and a full Nativity drama.  There were preparations for the wards and patients.  Decorations were made, paper chains and bamboo stars covered with coloured paper.  Little cloth bags were sewn for each patient which would contain small gifts of soap, comb, fruit and sweets.  Here is what Mollie wrote about Christmas Eve:

“During the afternoon we bring out a pile of little earthen saucers, fill them with castor oil and put into each a long wick made from twisted cotton wool.  These saucers are then stuck firmly onto the walls of the hospital.  When the wicks are lit the whole hospital is outlined in tiny flickering lamps.  About 5:30 pm. we light these lamps, and then gather in the little chapel for a short service.  From there we come out in procession, each carrying a lighted candle, to go around the wards singing carols in Telugu.  We take with us two big baskets full of the cloth bags with their presents, fruit and sweets.  As we pass slowly round from ward to ward one bag is given to each patient.  By now the dancing flames of the lamps and candles are the only light in the enveloping darkness, and the patients and relatives crowd round wonderingly as we go by singing and receive their presents with incredulous delight.  Very often children and relatives join in the procession, and as we wind slowly about, the magic of Christmas begins to weave itself about us.”

Later – “The night staff come on duty and the tired, excited people settle down to sleep.  This is a wonderful time to walk through the dark quiet wards, seeing here a child, smiling in his sleep as he clutches the precious toy, there an old granny clutching her equally precious bag, and here a young man, often awake through the night because of pain, but this evening busy with something else, pondering, wondering… .

 “Sister Amah, is it true, that story about the baby who came?” 
“Yes, Ranganna, it is true, every word of it.”
“Sister Amah, did you see this Jesus?” 
“No, Ranganna, not then – but today, and many days I have seen and heard Him, here in this hospital”. 

After one furlough in Britain Mollie wrote about two contrasting views of her life in India: First, there were memories of hard and difficult times:

“Scorching days and stifling nights, dust, dirt, flies, filth and smells.  Times of being angry, futilely and frustratingly so; struggling wearily up with a throbbing head to toil, leaden-footed, around unending wards; of repeating the same instructions twenty times and still finding it not done; of bitter disillusionments and disappointments; of medical defeats and the reproach in the eyes of those who had trusted us; of the squabbles in the local church.” 

On the other hand there were many happy memories -

“an unexpected surprise birthday party from the staff; the bright eyes of a dark-skinned god-daughter; the greetings of little children walking across the hospital compound; the unbelievable red-gold glory of an Eastern dawn; the tearful gratitude of village relatives; the lusty cry of a new babe after a long night’s labour; the silent benediction of the walk home by moonlight with a difficult operation safely over; the satisfying weariness at the end of a day’s hard toil; the friendly joys of staff picnics, wedding feasts; the deep experience of an early communion service according to the liturgy of the Church of South India. “ 

Behind her work, Mollie had a deep Christian faith and commitment.  She ended this little article of contrasts with these words and questions –

“Both pictures are true. . . God’s power is seen in both, in action and in passion, in glory and in suffering.  Is it right to call this ‘earthly life’?  Isn’t it rather ‘eternal life in daily living’?” 

If her funeral had been, not in Bolton, Lancashire, but in Jammalamadugu, India, it would not have been attended by a small handful of people, but by hundreds.  There would have been the senior lawyer, who had worked with Mollie and appreciated her sharp brain.  There would have been the hospital sweepers, the cleaners, for whose rights she had fought in matters of housing and salary scales.  There would have been the influential people whose babies she had delivered, and there would have been scores of nurses, and hundreds of village people who had come to the hospital in distress and had received practical and professional care with kindness from her hands. 

It was a great privilege to have worked with Mollie.  It is an irony that one with such a brilliant brain should have ended her life with dementia; that one who had cared for so many ended her life being completely dependent on the care of others.  Now her spirit is released from her frail body, free to serve the Lord she loved in Heaven rather than on earth.  But her selfless life of commitment to others remains a challenge to each one of us who knew her and worked with her. 

William and Margot Cutting

 

Miss Frances M Spencer [Tiruchi–Thanjavur Diocese] served in South India from 1946 until 1980.  She came from Morley in West Yorkshire and was a fluent Tamil speaker, a gifted teacher and preacher.   Her whole life was devoted to the India she loved.  On arrival in India she worked first in the Girls’ School in Dharapuram and later as Superintendent of Bible Women where she was involved in evangelistic outreach and training throughout the diocese.   She was held in high esteem throughout the diocese.   She retired in 1980 and lived with an Indian family in Chennai until returning to England in 1994.  In England she received wonderful care first at Rickmansworth and later at Woodhall Spa where after a long illness she died peacefully on 22nd August 2008, aged 88 years.

 

Miss Betty Swan died on September 9th 2008.  She served in North India with CMS in the Diocese of Lucknow from 1963 to 1973.  Based in Jeyi, she worked among women in the villages and in nearby Meerut she was mainly engaged in writing biblical booklets for women’s groups. Her devoted service and friendship are warmly remembered.

 

Miss Dorothy Mabel Tate

Dorothy Tate was accepted by the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society - CEZMS, on 12th July 1939 and sailed to India on 28th November 1939 to engage in pastoral and evangelistic work in what was then the large Diocese of Dornakal in the Anglican Church in India.   Her work involved a great deal of touring of villages, camping for many days at a stretch, and was carried on against a background of illiteracy and conservatism in an area often affected by crippling drought.   In such a large diocese with many isolated congregations, this was often lonely work, but she worked with  her team of “bible women” Indian women who were trained in evangelistic work, she kept a happy relationship with such women to the end of her days in India.  Zenana in its title referred to the women’s’ quarter in Muslim houses and the CEZMS was a society founded by women and run by them to develop work amongst women. She visited the women in the Muslim areas, like that under the fort in Khamameth. She saw much encouragement in the development of women's work and much stimulating evidence of the Holy Spirit's activity. She developed study schools and fellowship groups among congregations and workers.  In the next twenty years from 1939 the Second World War brought many changes to life in India, and there was the movement for independence which came in 1947 with the division of British India into Pakistan and India.  In the same year the Church of South India incorporated the Anglican dioceses in the South of India, and the new Diocese of Dornakal formed then included the Methodist area on its north side. Dorothy accepted all these changes calmly and mostly worked in the former Anglican area. 

This area was in the state of Hyderabad, “The Nizam’s Dominions”, a state with its own currency mostly governed by its Muslim aristocrats. In 1948-49 the Nizam’s government made an ill - timed bid for independence and brutal chaos ensued.  “Razakars”, militant Muslim groups, came down from the north of India and Afghanistan, probably today they would be called Taliban, and the communists, who were numerous in the area, rose in rebellion. Both groups attacked the Christians and picked out the evangelists and leaders among them to kill them and to steal their meagre stocks of food. Dorothy, along with Bishop Elliot, other missionaries and leaders in the diocese stayed at their posts, visiting the congregations. In the end, Prime Minister Nehru initiated “The Police Action”, to take control in the state and the Indian army came into Khamameth. There the large Muslim community was terrified, expecting that the Hindus and others would seek revenge upon them.  Most of the men fled but some men and many women made for the Hospital Compounds where they were taken in by Dorothy and Dr. Abraham, the Indian doctor, and the school compound where Revd. Robin and Myrtle Budget were in charge. For several days the Muslims were cared for, though food was very short, and angry groups bent on revenge came to the Hospital gate where Dorothy and Dr. Abraham faced them with nothing more than their quiet authority.  Eventually the whole town turned out to thank them for saving the Muslim community and keeping the peace. 

Dorothy continued with her work, living in Khamameth and about 1958 she began to work with K Azariah and Mary Sithamma, forming an evangelistic team with them and with Ruth a former Bible woman. Work was developed among caste people, and as a result there is a growing substantial Christian community from the caste people alongside the mostly “Outcaste” older congregations; the work continues under the leadership of Azariah.  Dorothy left India in 1969,

On returning to the UK Dorothy soon was at work as Matron looking after men in St. Cross hospital, a charitable hostel in Winchester.  The men’s disorderly antics were dealt with by Dorothy’s usual combination of humour and firm authority and the staff remember her fondly. She moved to Orchard Place in Twyford nearby where she kept a careful eye on the garden for several years. She died in the Devenish Hospital in Winchester, appropriately on All Saints day on November 1st, 2007, aged 94.

In making arrangements for her funeral she had suggested that it be held in the undertaker’s chapel, as she did not think that many people would attend, family and friends were very happy to prove her wrong for once at St. Mary’s Church in Twyford.

The Rev John Mark now manages much of the relief and evangelistic work of Azariah’s team, and he is the son of Dorothy’s colleague, Ruth. 

 

Mrs Margaret Todman died on 26th September 2008, aged 88. She was the wife of the late Rev Arnold Todman, who was appointed by the LMS in 1942 to serve in the Tamil area of S India. She supported him in his long service as pastor, evangelist and in diocesan  administration in Erode and more widely in the CSI Coimbatore Diocese, as well as caring for their children, giving loving hospitality to colleagues & visitors and assisting him in the care of boys in the Erode Boarding Home. They returned to UK in 1966, when Arnold was appointed as an overseas secretary of CCWM until 1978, after which they served in ministry at Hodge Hill URC and continued in Birmingham in retirement. Their long and faithful service is warmly remembered.

 

Mrs Jean Turner [CMS 1958 – 1967 CSI Tirunelveli Diocese. Lecturer, Sarah Tucker College] died on December 20th 2008, aged 79.

Jean Turner, née Macdonald, first went to India with CMS in April 1955. A Cambridge graduate in English Literature, after initial Tamil study she took up a lecturer's post in the English Department of Sarah Tucker College, Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli. With increasing numbers of girls, the college moved to a new campus in the edge of town area of Perumaipuram, Tirunelveli. Jean undertook the supervision of erecting the college chapel, a much loved and successful place of worship.

As well as her regular teaching duties, Jean prepared girls for confirmation and organised college activities for the Student Christian Movement. Similar work was going on at the diocesan men's college, St John's, under the supervision of USPG missionary the Revd John Turner. In 1967 their engagement was followed by a return to England, where they married and remained. Both felt the need to be near elderly widowed mothers. (In fact, Jean's mother, Dr Stella Macdonald, had also worked for a while under CMS in Palayamkottai, helping in school health promotion, but had by then retired to Malvern.)

As well as ministry in various Essex parishes, the Turners spent several years at St Deiniol's Library, Hawarden. They retired to Frinton-on-Sea, where Jean died on 20th December after a brief illness. The funeral took place on 31st December in St Michael's Church, Kirbyle Soken.

Jean is survived by her husband, John, and their son, Francis.

Mary Paterson

Irene WrightMiss Irene Victoria Wright [Baptist Missionary Society 1948-1974. Nurse, Midwife and Matron, Moorshead Memorial Christian Hospital, Udayagiri, Orissa].  Died January 3rd, 2009, aged 85.

René was born in Blackheath, but, when she was 6, moved with her parents and elder sister Evelyn, to Green Street Green, Kent, beginning an association with the local Baptist Church that lasted for the rest of her life. There she was a member of the Sunday School and Christian Endeavour. She came to faith in childhood, and was baptised just after her 15th birthday.

Her first job was with the GPO but at eighteen she enrolled as a student nurse. She successfully completed training for her SRN at Bolingbroke Hospital, Wandsworth Common and SCM at Bushey General and Woolwich.

At a BIVIS Summer School in her late teens, she shared with friends her sense of call to overseas service for the Lord. She followed this up with BIVIS and in November 1946 was accepted as a candidate. A few weeks later she began a year of preparatory mission studies at Carey Hall Training College, Selly Oak.

She sailed for India in January 1948. In all, René was in India for almost a quarter of a century, all of it based at the Moorshead Memorial Hospital at G. Udayagiri, in the Kond Hills, Orissa.  Initially she was a Nursing Sister then, in 1950, became the Nursing Superintendent. She learnt Kui, the local tribal language, and the basics of Oriya, the more generally spoken language of that state. She loved the people and, in turn, was much loved by them.

When René arrived, the hospital had been established for ten years. Throughout René's time there the facilities and premises underwent considerable expansion and development. However, it was 1955 before it had electricity and almost another 3 years before it acquired an Xray machine. The hospital's ministry to body, mind and spirit was well used, with its 100 or so beds often fully occupied  and the floor space at times! There was a stream of outpatients too.

Colleagues and friends from those days recall the high professional standards of hygiene and nursing care that René set: always putting the care of the patient as the highest priority. She was a strict disciplinarian with the staff, but always had a kindly touch in dealing with patients.  In her early years there René contracted polio from one of the patients. It marked her for life, physically, but thanks to the skill and care of Dr Stanley Thomas, the Medical Superintendent, the effects were not as debilitating as they might have been.

Being Nursing Superintendent was a demanding role, which she carried out with devotion and distinction. As well as the hands-on nursing and her particular expertise in the operating theatre, she was involved in administration and, importantly, shared in training the next generation of nurses and midwives to carry on the good work both in G. Udayagiri and other Indian hospitals.

In the early 1970s, the missionary personnel in G. Udayagiri came to a collective decision that the time had come to hand over the work to nationals, so, as their next furloughs became due, they withdrew. René's farewell came in 1972, and she took early retirement from BMS at the end 1973 after 27 years with the Society.

Back in Britain, she was appointed a ward sister at Orpington Hospital, a post she held for 5 years, before transferring to Sevenoaks Cottage Hospital for her last 4 years prior to retirement.  Soon after her return she was appointed a deacon (later, treasurer) at Green Street Green Baptist Church. Within the fellowship she was a great encourager of others and was the sort of person who quietly got on with things in her friendly and unassuming manner.

She remained in touch with friends in India and enjoyed offering hospitality to occasional visitors from the subcontinent and her large circle of friends. Her curries were delicious! As well as entertaining, a wide variety of other pastimes brought her much pleasure, such as reading, knitting, crochet, tapestry work and listening to classical music.

In later retirement she moved to Wells, and again became very much involved in the life of the Baptist Church. In 2002, due to decreasing mobility, she moved to Chawleigh, Devon, into an annexe to her niece's home. From her windows there she enjoyed views of wide-open spaces, as well the sights and sounds of the farmyard.  She always loved animals and had a succession of pets. Since India days she'd loved bird watching. In Devon the bird table outside her window attracted a wonderful, colourful variety of visitors, which she would record and report to the RSPB each month. Every January she enjoyed taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch.

Although increasingly housebound, René became part of the local parish ministry team and gave much appreciated input.  In April 2007, following a fall in which she broke her leg badly, she moved into a care home in Minehead, then to another in South Molton, from where she was promoted to glory.

We recall with gratitude to God one who was special to so many. In a long life she did so much in the service of others. She was a committed believer, a dedicated worker, and a kind and generous friend.

It was fitting that both at her cremation in Barnstaple and a subsequent thanksgiving service in Green Street Green, friends and former colleagues from each of the churches of which she had been an active member, in Britain and India, were either present, or sent tributes, to honour her memory. We thank the Lord for her life.

David Martin

 

 

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