The unexpected passing of our dear friend Judith means that our Freetown-Hull Partnership has lost a truly significant member. Judith was an activist and probably exhausted her heart condition because she was unable to step back and rest. Freetown was just one expression of that  activity.

She grew up in Hull and taught in a number of local schools before drifting into Lincolnshire where she became a Head Teacher. She was a committed historian, deeply involved in local history as well as wider areas. She was a keen member of the Richard III Society and the Yorkshire Ridings Society. Her knowledge was immense and she had an incredible understanding of William Wilberforce and his contemporaries as they founded so many movements that changed the course of history. The Church Mission Society was one of those movements and she had belonged to CMS since her youth. It was through CMS that we explored the possibility of building partnership links with the Anglican Church in Freetown, leading to our first visit to Freetown in 2007. Since then we have worked together on five more visits and established strong links with the Bishop of Freetown, his clergy and congregations. The soft side of Judith was soon looking to support some of the vulnerable with practical support for such as the Leonard Cheshire Orphanage for Disabled children in Cline Town and the Milton Margai School for the Blind on Wilkinson Road. She also began to sponsor a number of students, especially the daughters & sons of the clergy. She saw three young ladies through the Methodist Girls High and continued to support some into University. She was also covering the fees for a young man at Sierra Leone Grammar.

When news was sent to our friends in Freetown there was a real sense of bereftness. Some were clearly distraught at the unexpected loss. The Bishop of Freetown, The Rt Rev’d Thomas Ikunika Wilson, wrote:

Greetings in the name of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. My heartfelt sympathy for the loss of our dear sister Judith. I do remember her and her selfless contribution to our Diocese and young boys and girls in our community.

This is a great loss and we pray for her dear soul to rest in peace and rise in Glory.

Meanwhile, in Hull, she was an active member and Treasurer of the local CMS Association (the oldest in the country – over 200years!) and of the CMS Yorkshire group too. She was many times Churchwarden at St Mary’s, Lowgate, an active member of the Mothers’ Union and spent regular days at the York Diocesan Centre near Scarborough, Wydale Hall, were she weeded in the gardens! She was a sport lover, Yorkshire CCC and a small North Yorkshire village team, Hull City (until recent years!) and North Ferriby United along with links to cricket in New Zealand which she would often visit, usually when England were touring.

Judith was complex, could be sharp, and was not everyone’s friend but get beneath that front revealed someone with a passionate heart to make a difference and she will be greatly mourned. fff