“My mother was an Anglican, my father and grandparents were Methodists, so we were sent to the Methodist Sunday school. When I was about 11 the ‘Caravan Mission to Village Children’ came to Polruan. I was really touched by a lot of what happened there. Three years later, the two Methodist Churches of Polruan worked together to do a joint mission. During this mission I gave my life to Lord and in due course was accepted into membership of the Methodist Church, the Methodist equivalent of Confirmation.
At 18 I went off to uni and got into the SCM and I went to church throughout my time at uni, but I felt that my faith grew cold. I did a degree in Applied Biology which was a sandwich course, and I spent my third ‘Industrial Training Period’ in Bedfordshire and started to attend a Baptist church in a wooden hut. They gave me such a lovely welcome especially the lay pastor and Mrs Jolly. They loved me back into the Kingdom.
I moved to Kent where I joined up with a Methodist church, but again my faith grew cold. Meanwhile the church Baptist church raised money to rebuild the hut and Mrs Jolly invited me to the grand opening. The next day, during the Sunday service I felt God say to me ‘are you on my side, or not!’ As clear as that. This was really when my spiritual life rekindled.
I felt that my job of assessing the vitamin content of slimming biscuits was not the most worthwhile thing. I decided to ask God what He wanted me to do and He said to teach which horrified me and I said I will go anywhere or do anything but not teach! After 6 months of continually hearing about teaching from people around me, I gave in and to my amazement found that I loved teaching!
When working as a teacher I stayed with a couple that were planning to go to Nigeria with the Sudan United Mission [S.U.M.]. I started going to the SUM prayer meeting, and through this the Lord called me to go to Nigeria. Part of what we prayed for was the schools in Gindiri, which I took a particular interest in. Later one of my friends was called to be a missionary and I wondered why I wasn’t called to go as I had always wanted to travel as a young girl. When I eventually felt called to go I needed to find out if I was definitely God telling me to go and not my love for travel. I prayed that God would give it green lights all the way if it was his will and sure enough there was.
As I wanted to be a long-term missionary as opposed to a ‘short-termer’ I needed to go to Bible College and was fortunate enough to be accepted at All Nations Christian College where I had a wonderful year. I went out to Nigeria in 1977. I taught at Gindiri Boys Secondary School [BSS] which back in the 1950’s had been the first secondary school, in what was then British West Africa, to integrate blind students and which continued to do so. I noticed that the blind pupils weren’t getting a fair crack of the whip, a as it was assumed that blind boys couldn’t do a variety of subjects including maths which I knew they could do due to having a friend, Jan, who worked at a school for the blind in UK. So I came back to UK and did a B. Ed [Visually Impaired]. On my return to BSS, my colleague, Pam, started, with my help with mathematical braille and modified rulers etc, to include blind students in her maths classes; one of them, Joshua, was overheard saying: ‘We’ve got a mad white woman in BSS! She is trying to teach me maths but blind boy’s brains can’t do maths! EVERYONE knows that!’ She didn’t succeed with Joshua [who now wishes he had continued with maths!] but a later BSS blind student, Emmanuel, eventually graduated from Jos University with a B.Sc in Mathematics! Corneal scarring from measles is the commonest cause of visual impairment in Nigeria and I found that some of those who had been taught Braille because of this actually read braille by sight and could read print! I quickly set them to Brailling much needed text books and also teamed each of the blind students with a sighted partner to do the same. This led in 1990 to the purpose-built ‘Gindiri Material Centre for the Visually Handicapped [GMCVH] where I worked for the last 8 years of my time in Nigeria.
In 1998 I suffered delayed PTSD from an accident where I was driving and someone was fatally injured. This led to the Mission deciding that I should return to UK. Having been used to teaching African youths who were polite, well-motivated, eager to learn and respectful of their seniors AND suffering stress-related mental health problems I knew that I couldn’t teach in a British Secondary School, so I ended up as a poorly paid Carer in the West Midlands where my ‘sending church’ was. My friends who had continued to work in Britain were all by now either in very well paid jobs or had taken early retirement with excellent pensions and I was struggling to make ends meet on the minimum wage! The ‘last straw’ was not being able to afford to buy Christmas decorations which reduced me to tears of despair as I wondered if I had got my guidance to be a missionary wrong and if I had wasted the best 20 years of my life on a mistake. The pastor of my ‘sending church’ [a Baptist Church in the Midlands] said that he did not accept that I had thrown those years away but that even if I had ‘who better to throw them away for than the Lord?!’ That put things in proportion and when, a couple of years later my mother had a stroke and initially needed care 24/7, my experience as a Carer was invaluable, plus it was much easier to re-locate back to Polruan from the West Midlands than it would have been from West Africa! God, as usual, had it all planned out! Once mum recovered sufficiently I worked part time as a Carer and then as a guide at the Eden Project which I loved doing. During this time God called me to train as a Reader and also into children’s work which I continue to enjoy. This includes the fortnightly ‘Kool Kidz Fun Klub’ an annual summer Holiday Club, ‘Open the Book’ in Polruan School and Messy Church.”