Connexion People - Brian and Brenda
We are among the old stagers in the Connexion, and it is great to see younger folk joining the “family”, and these newer ways of keeping in touch. We love the revamped website!
As for our stories, here’s the quick version. Work brought us closer geographically and then our involvement in Mortimer West Chapel led to a more permanent entanglement. But there are a lot of years to fill in before that.
Brian's earlier years
Brian was born in Yorkshire, brought up in Lancashire, and went to school in Manchester. He became a Christian at a Crusader camp in Wales at 14; and was actively involved in the Christian Union when at Liverpool and then London University. He studied biochemistry. There was also a stint in the Royal Army Education Corps, towards the end of national service.
Brian met his first wife, Marjorie, in Liverpool and, after moving to Berkshire, two children, Alison and David, followed. By this time Brian was a research scientist at Jealott’s Hill, Bracknell, with the family becoming involved in the Countess of Huntington chapel where they lived, nearby Wargrave.
In 1968 Brian became a Trustee of The Connexion, eventually becoming Chairman and General Secretary, before handing on to Noel Valelly and Dave Sweetman in 2008.
Brenda was born in Plymouth and spent most of her early years in the south west, before studying history at Reading University. She never quite escaped, obtaining a job on graduation at the Museum of English Rural Life. This was idyllic, combining bombing around the country in an old Bedford van collecting old agricultural equipment and archives, with teaching responsibilities in the University. Brenda was baptised when a student but had a period of doubt afterwards. She had recovered her faith by the 1980s and started to attend Goring Free Church.
The two met after Marjorie died in 1990, and at a time Brenda had recently lost both her parents. Mike Ward at GFC suggested that she join a team to re-establish the chapel at Mortimer West. Brian, as connexional trustee, was also on the team. Both were very slow on the uptake, but eventually decided that the other was a good thing and married in 1995. That is 25 years ago! Wow!
The Chapel, Mortimer West End
With a brilliant restoration team, led by Max and Ros Rowe, the chapel was rededicated in 1993 and continues to be a place that glorifies God and has a wonderful chapel family. Both of us have undertaken various roles, and are still part of the preaching team, and try to encourage and support others where we can. Of course, we are now all doing things by Zoom, but look forward to when it is possible to come back together on site.
Together in Mission
A joy for us has been our involvement in Together in Mission, an initiative by local Christians to show Christ’s love within our local communities, by setting up a befriending service, a community café, and a School Pastors service. All have been running now for several years and are greatly appreciated. Brian served as a Trustee for this and Brenda as fundraiser, though have handed the baton on to a very capable team.
To complete our personal story, we have seven grandchildren, all different in personality and interests. Two are married and the youngest about to start university. Employment includes working on a new Shaun the Sheep video game, fitness training, and IT support. As the faith dimension, one is working for a big Plymouth church, another about to start Bible College, and another volunteering for Caring for Life in Leeds. What a great lot!