David's Story

My mother and father both came from Brighton where there was extensive family, but in the late twenties my father's work took him to Rugby where I was born some years later. My mother was almost completely deaf, so we rarely entertained or went out to places like the cinema, and saw relations only very occasionally, (usually on the annual holiday to Brighton). My father occasionally went to church, but my mother very rarely as she heard nothing when she did ( hearing aids and loop systems did not exist). Nevertheless I was duly baptized (in Brighton, of course) we said grace at meals, and as a small child I was taught to say my prayers and that there was a God who loved us.

As I grew up and progressed through primary and secondary schools God became rather remote , and the sermons I sat through in school chapel made no impact on me. However I did get to know my bible as RE lessons were bible based, things like Paul's journeys were examined in detail, Sunday prep consisted of learning the collect for that week and psalms etc were sung lustily in chapel. I was confirmed in the 4th form, (along with the rest of the form - get it out of the way before the 5th form school cert year) - it did nothing for me , just another event in the school calendar, like speech day.

In due course I left school, having managed to secure a place at Oxford, straight into the arms of National service in the Royal Artillery. God, Christ and Jesus were names frequently heard during those two years, usually associated with four letter words. I did find their misuse unpleasant but simply accepted it and occasionally misused them myself, something which, to my shame, even 60 years later can still surface in times of stress.

Demob came, and I moved on to the dreaming spires. It was the year of the week long university mission and the College "God Squad" were in overdrive trying to persuade people to attend the evening talks held in the local church. I told them where to go (moderately politely) on the Monday and Tuesday. They did not bother to come on the Wednesday, but that evening I knew I had to be there. I made it with a minute or two to spare, and throughout the talk I felt that, despite there being a hundred or so in the audience, the missioner ( John Stott) was talking only to me. I knew that "Christ died for OUR sins" - I had heard it so many times, but that night I understood for the first time that Christ died for MY sins. Later that evening, in the quiet of my bedroom I asked Jesus into my life. For the first time in my life I understood what it was to be a Christian.

There was no dramatic change in my lifestyle, but prayer, bible study and church attendance became increasingly important parts of my life. Things did not always go well, morning quiet times varied from the useful and rewarding to the "nod to God" type, but I very soon found that cutting out quiet time to get more time to deal with a long list of "must do's" was counterproductive - time taken for a proper quiet time was never wasted - the jobs somehow seemed to sort themselves out and the clock seemed to run more slowly.

My decision to teach physics brought me to Oakham. It wasn't the most prestigious of the schools I went to look at, but I knew it was the right one. Sunday worship was, of course, school chapel again but there were opportunities to give the address on Sundays, to run Christian groups, to answer questions as to why I was a Christian, to take boys on West Runton holidays with which I had become associated at college ( and still am).

Retirement brought a great upheaval - my mother, my only close relative, had died a year or so before. To move away from Oakham and friends did not make sense but where to worship now? Angels come in a variety of guises, the one I met on Oakham High St said "Why don't you try Cottesmore? I think that would suit you."