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Past and Present

PHYLLIS HILDA JESSOP (20th March 1908 – 25th September 1999)

Phyllis Jessop was born on 20th March 1908, and, according to notes jotted down when I first met her, I believe that she was the daughter of a local carpenter.

She was baptised here at this church (Fuller Baptist Church) on 29th November 1925 - one of 9 young people baptised at the evening service on that occasion, and then a week later she was welcomed as a church member at the communion service on 6th December - which means she was a member of this church for very nearly 74 years.

According to an old Fuller church magazine, it would appear that Phyllis was a member of the Christian Endeavour, and it may have been through these meetings with their monthly missionary meetings, together with the annual visits of BMS missionaries, that Phyllis received her call to overseas service.

It would seem she had this sense of call for quite some time before leaving for Congo - she struggled with the idea at first, refusing to believe that God was calling her in this way, but in the end the call was confirmed.

She was an inspiration, indeed something of a hero, to the younger people in the church, many of whom worked through the Ropeholders to support her.

Phyllis trained as a nurse and midwife and qualified as a State Registered Nurse and State Certified Midwife, gaining top marks in her nursing exams at the Kettering General Hospital.

She was appointed by the Baptist Missionary Society in 1935 and in Autumn of that year, Phyllis set off for Lisbon, Portugal for language study prior to becoming a missionary nurse on the Congo.

By all accounts she seems to have enjoyed her time in Portugal. She returned in Spring 1936 and then, at the age of 28, Phyllis set sail for Congo on 3rd June of that same year. Three weeks later she wrote home saying "I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about everything... to think that I have really and truly reached Congo at last."

She worked at the hospital in San Salvador and, among other duties, was involved in training nurses.

Phyllis served as a missionary for just over 30 years, until political troubles in Angola made life difficult, and she had to return home.

Back here at Fuller, Phyllis worked for almost 3 years as a Social Worker on behalf of the church, during John Doble's ministry.

She also served for a number of years as a trustee on the Stockburn Memorial Trust.

The following are comments made by church members in response to an appeal for memories prior to the funeral service held on 5th October 1999 to celebrate Phyllis’ life ...

Phyllis was always willing to sit with my father when he was ill, so that my mother was able to get out of the house.

Phyllis always had an encouraging word for people and she was always interested in the young people and in what they were doing.

Phyllis has been for me at times a real blessing, bringing light to my darkest hours - she was a real woman of prayer.

Phyllis was always eager for news from BMS headquarters. Some of the things she said in church meetings were really on the ball. She left her heart in Angola.

Graeme Stockdale, conducting the funeral service, made the following comments:-

There are two or three things I remember in particular about Phyllis.

I suppose the first thing I recall is that she was always late for church services, and when I first came here I had to train myself very quickly not to be distracted when she came in through the door to my left during the service - something the congregation never managed to do!

I realise, however, that getting here was often a great effort for her. If she didn't have transport, she would come right across the town using her Zimmer frame, and in some ways this was a measure of her determination and her desire to be present at worship.

I also recall that Phyllis always seemed to have lots of pieces of paper, and often would be writing things down - I used to notice this especially at the Tuesday evening Bible Study, and I would have loved to have known what she was writing!

She always liked to pick up any papers, leaflets - anything that enabled her to stay in touch with what was happening in the church and beyond.

I also remember her smile. Life wasn't easy for her in recent years, but I remember that when she smiled, her whole face lit up.


REVD OSWALD FRASER MCLEAN CAMPBELL (Minister at Fuller from 1932-1938)

(O.F.M. Campbell died on 30th September 1995 and his funeral service was held at Fuller Baptist Church on 6th October 1995. The following is an edited version of the Eulogy given by Revd Graeme Stockdale.)

I count it as a great privilege to have this opportunity of leading us through this service, and of speaking a few words of tribute concerning a brother minister (very much my senior and yet a brother minister nonetheless) - Revd Oswald Fraser McLean Campbell. And yet, whilst I count it a privilege, I must confess to feeling rather daunted by the task!

Ossie Campbell (as he preferred to be known) lived for 86 years, and in the space of just a few minutes I can hardly begin to do justice to all the experiences that have gone into those 86 years.

Mr Campbell was a man of many interests, he was well read, knowledgeable, widely travelled - something of a "scholar".

He was born the only son of a minister and had four sisters.

Ossie sensed God's call to ministry and, after training at Rawdon Baptist College, was invited in 1932 to become minister of Fuller Baptist Church here in Kettering - an invitation which in itself was indicative of his ministerial gifts and leadership qualities even at that early age.

He remained minister at Fuller until 1938, and I was told recently that we still have 18 people in membership at Fuller who were baptised by Ossie Campbell - and I'm sure there are many others who have moved to other parts of the country who were also influenced and guided by his ministry.

In 1938 Mr Campbell left Kettering, having accepted a call to become minister at Banstead Road Baptist Church, Purley. At the beginning of World War 2, he saw it as his Christian duty to serve as a chaplain in the RAF, and remained as a chaplain long after the war was over. Indeed, Ossie became a Group Captain, which I'm told is, in chaplaincy terms, an honorary rank but given in recognition of the esteem and respect in which he was held. He had a particular gift of being "good with people", whether it be welcoming new recruits from all classes of society or mixing with senior officers.

Whilst serving in the RAF he was awarded the OBE for his involvement in the Moral Leadership School in Germany.

In 1964 Ossie retired from the RAF and took up an educational appointment, teaching at Hazel Leys School, Corby, where, despite his strong line in discipline, he was looked upon as an "excellent and respected teacher".

I mentioned earlier that Ossie Campbell was a man of many interests... and those who know me would be very surprised if I omitted to mention his sporting activities - cricket, fishing and, by no means least, football. Ossie played for Kettering whilst minister here, and I'm told that it was not unheard of for him to conduct a wedding with football strip under his gown, in readiness for a match after the service!

He was also very keen on photography, having taken up the hobby in 1946 whilst stationed in Jerusalem.

It's important that we remember that Ossie Campbell was not only a minister, RAF chaplain, and teacher, but he was also a husband, father, grandfather, and, indeed, great grandfather.

He met his wife whilst here in Kettering back in the 1930's, and was absolutely devoted to her, caring for her, cherishing her through her illness until she passed on. And his love and devotion for her were such that he felt her loss very deeply, and never really got over it - it was as if part of him died too.

He was always very supportive of his sons, especially if they were involved in sporting events. And he was a good and much-loved grandfather too.

Ossie Campbell was a servant of the gospel... a gospel rooted in the love of God; a gospel centred on the cross of Christ, and the empty tomb of the Risen Saviour; a gospel telling us of victory over death, and carrying the promise of life eternal to all who believe.

And we can entrust our friend to God's care because God is faithful and fulfils all his promises. We have no worries now concerning Ossie Campbell - we know that he is indeed reunited with his wife and is in the glorious presence of God, and is experiencing something far more wonderful than we can ever imagine.

And so we celebrate this life and we give thanks to God who gives us the victory over death in Christ Jesus, and in whose presence this life continues to all eternity.”



Last Updated on Saturday, 05 February 2011 23:47