My father was born in Leeds but I was born over the border in the Lune Valley, in Lancashire. From an early age, I had an interest in words and as a six year old, I wrote my first poem. “The train went puffing up the hill. ‘Go faster’ cried the driver, Bill. The train had come a long, long way. Right from the sunny seaside bay”. Not the work of a Poet Laureate but nevertheless, a start.
In my twenties, with two young children, I wrote poetic stories to keep them amused. A particular favourite was Cobwebs the Kitten--- the escapades of a mischievous kitten. I also wrote other short stories but never with a view to them being published.
Having pursued a career in banking and the Civil Service, in 1979 I became the minister of Ingleton Evangelical Church. This meant moving from Morecambe into North Yorkshire, whilst retaining a Lancashire postcode! For the next 30 years, most of my writing was confined to the writing of sermons with just occasional articles published in football and Christian magazines.
Throughout my ministry, I have in my preaching made use of personal anecdotes. Not only do they illustrate Biblical teaching but they are also the means of regaining the attention of a ‘drifting’ congregation. I had been asked on several occasions to put these anecdotes down in writing and retirement provided the opportunity to do so.
I submitted a manuscript to Onwards and Upwards in 2015 - a publisher which encourages first time writers. The response was positive and six months later, ‘Truth in a Nutshell’ was published. The book is easy to read and has been bought by some who have not bought or read a book for many years.
The following extract is under the heading Temptation. “Foolishly I was placing out my tablets when my sweet-loving, two-year-old granddaughter came into the room. Her eyes sparkled and before I could intervene, she had taken one. Desperate to stop her swallowing the medication, I put my fingers in her mouth and managed to grab the tablet. Naturally, Elodie was upset and immediately burst into tears.
“As with Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan makes sin attractive and irresistible but how often it all ends in tears and sadness.”
A number of preachers have used these anecdotes in order to illustrate their own sermons and in this way, they are reaching an even wider audience. I was recently informed that ‘Truth In aNutshell’ was being read by an inmate at Walton prison and it is gratifying to think that perhaps prisoners are being challenged and encouraged by the book.
Having caught the writing bug I soon set out on my second book and this has just been published by Onwards and Upwards.
In 1969, I became a Methodist lay preacher and since then I have preached in many churches and denominations throughout the north of England. The years of preaching have brought with them many amusing and serious moments and some of these I seek to recapture in the book. It is entitled ‘How shall they hear?’ - the memoirs and observations of a country preacher.
The book has ten short chapters and is easy to read.
“Afternoon services in country chapels were often a challenge as farmers battled with drowsiness. On one occasion I feared for the safety of a middle aged farmer. He was sound asleep but leaning so much to one side that there was a real danger he might end up on the floor.
At the door, the man then thanked me for my sermon. I was tempted to ask which of the three points he had found the most helpful.”
“One Sunday I went to preach at a village chapel I had never preached at before. I found the building without any difficulty but when I walked inside, half the roof was missing. I followed some ladies who were walking to the village hall. It was here that the service was being held. No-one had thought to inform me that the church was out of use for several weeks.”
We have a son and daughter-in-law, teaching in Singapore and a daughter and son-in-law in Burley in Wharfedale. We also have five grandchildren, including twins in Singapore.
In 1987, my wife Pat and I fostered a multi-handicapped boy called Aaron and in 2004, he became our adopted son. Aaron was never expected to reach his teenage years but he defied the medics until he died in May at the age of 28.
Aaron was well known and well loved in Ingleton and we miss him greatly.
I am presently writing his life story and finding it to be a poignant but therapeutic exercise. I am hoping that this third book will be published before the end of the year.