My life has brought many challenges and privileges, and on reflection, has been moulded by people I have met along the way.
Childhood certainly presented my first challenge. I was the 7th child in a family of nine and my father was killed in an accident in the winter of 1940. My elder siblings were on wartime duties, and at the age of 9 years I became the ‘man of the house.’. Hence my training as a carer, both in the home and the neighbourhood!
State benefits and pensions were nominal in those days, so my mother was left t o ‘sink or swim’, but with help and encouragement of the wider family and from neighbours on our council state we got through.
So we all survived despite social problems. In those days the church was a focal point! My brothers were all in the parish church choir…but I was rejected as having a poor singing voice! Nevertheless, the vicar encouraged me to read the lessons – what a training!
At the age of 11 I must have looked like a candidate for the local elementary school (for boys but managed to pass for a place at Heanor Grammer School. We learnt the hard way, BUT, these early experiences taught me the joys and experiences of life.
As a teenager, the Methodist Youth Club admitted me, I was on my way to a journey that I could never have foreseen and I became a local preacher in 1949.
National Service in 1949 made a ‘man out of me’ and their “moral leadership” courses and teaching really developed me as a young preacher, especially in terms of meditation.
So started the second and third stages of my journey. TEaching had always been my ambition, and as our headmaster from Heanor had become Vice-Principal of Cheltenham (St. Paul’s), I secured a place for 2 years training as a junior teacher. What a privileged experience that was to be.
My Christian faith developed, and along the way with three other friends, the principal recommended us to continue our studies for a 3rd year in London for a certificate for teaching divinity…..what a giant step along my pilgrimage!
On returning to Nottingham my career took me into secondary teaching (firstly at Selston!) specialising in Maths and Religious Education. Another wonderful step had begun, developing my enthusiasm for young people, for out of school activities, and being appointed to the Examination Board for maths and completing the Open University course for a BA.
So, with the expectation of a fulfilling career as a teacher and preacher, encouraging and supporting others, I thought ‘this is my life’ (including both youth work and circuit steward)
However, an unexpected further stage was due to begin! I met and married Margaret in 1973 and became a magistrate in 1980.
I had always resisted suggestions (along with my close friend Don Chambers) to candidate for full-time ministry! ‘No’ I said; ‘No’ said Don!
But the Lord ‘put His boot into my backside’ and at the tender age of 54 years, I went to college – yet again for 2 years to train for the ordained ministry.
What an upheaval in my life, and Margaret’s, that decision caused. Nevertheless, we did it together, and Margaret joined me at Queen’s Collage Birmingham…. a really tough ride for both of us!
So, another phase began! The Methodist Stationing Committee sent us to Hull (which may as well have been Timbuctoo – with a wife kicking and screaming) However, we spent 7 years there with a huge building project! (a probationer’s lot was not a happy one – Gilbert and Sullivan). In fact we met some wonderful people there.
We left in 1993 for the West Midlands for the next part of our journey. I became chaplain at the glass works and again met some great souls! When we retired, Margaret really left her heart there!
In 1997, back to Nuthall, where for one year I became minister, setting in motion (with the amazing help of some great people) the project of our new building!! Little did we know where this would lead, including 3 years as minister at West Hallam.
AS our journey goes on, so does our pilgrimage…fulfilling as we are able the calling which we have been given, supported by the prayers and help of each other, and God’s people.
To those of you who have shared some of this journey with us, and for your support and friendship we are truly grateful.