Monday, 9 November 2015

Win Walden: My Story

Win Walden died on the 13th October, just two months short of her hundredth birthday.  As part of her Thanksgiving Service, her sister Doreen read out a testimony that Win wrote in 2007.

Life for me began in a small cottage at Daventry in Northamptonshire during the dark days of the First World War.  Soon afterwards my father was conscripted into the Army and was away for six years.   My parents were both from Christian homes and so it was natural for me to be brought up in the Christian faith.  Daventry was a small country town, serving many small villages.    We had an Anglican Church, Methodist, Catholic and a Congregational or Independent to which we belonged.  Every Sunday morning, afternoon and evening were spent there.   I graduated from scholar to Sunday School pianist and teacher and made a church member at 17.

Our day school had been founded by the Nonconformists before my father went to school and the Governors were chapel people. The teachers  too were expected to be Christians and every morning the day began with  a religious assembly.  I can still remember passages of Scripture that we learned in those assemblies..

The Sunday School Union yearly exams also helped ground us in the faith.   If you didn't pass the 11 Plus, you left school at the age of 14.  The only place to unless you were fortunate enough to work in a shop, was Stead & Simpson's shoe factory, and I began in the Closing Room in 1930.   I didn't like it , but you had to put up with it.

We enjoyed  our leisure time at the Youth Club.   For a while I went to evening classes; and I also enjoyed playing tennis.   Public transport was scarce so we walked in the countryside a lot.

Eventually my husband and I paired off and we were married in April 1939.  Happiness did not last long as war was declared in September, with the daily dread of conscription papers arriving.   Early in 1940 they came, and except for the odd leave here and there, we were apart for six years.

The war years were not all doom and gloom however.   I was invited to work in a grocery shop, a job I loved, and was there until the men came back from the war, after which I was promoted to the office.

I made friends with a Land Army girl from Manchester and strangers from London who belonged to the Brethren.   It was from these friends that I found a deeper faith in my Christian life.  
It was difficult to settle down after the war, but gradually life resumed a normal pattern.In 1960 I felt a strong desire to be baptised - but where?   The nearest Baptist Church was 5 miles away - with no public transport.  Eventually I went to Rugby which was 11 miles away, and the Lord went before me and opened up the way for me to experience the wonder of baptism.

About this time my husband was beginning to feel he would like to change his job.  A friend came forward with news of a Congregational Church in Solihull that needed a Caretaker.   We applied and were accepted, staying there for 5 years.   An advert in the Baptist Times for a Caretaker at Teddington Baptist Church made us restless.   We went for an interview and the removal van was soon at the door again.

Our new home was a cottage next door to the church.  We spent 5 happy years there, enjoying the lovely historic area, joining in all the church activities, serving the Lord in every way we could.

Then the blow fell; my husband was told by the doctor that he was very ill - what now!   The cottage was tied to the church.   We contacted the Baptist Men's Housing Association to see if they had anything.   All they could offer was a flat in Bristol!  Here again the Lord went before us, and we were duly installed in June 1976.   We were quite happy with the church and the flat, but were on the outskirts of Bristol, and after the busyness of life in London, with its wonderful bus service, we felt a bit flat.

Eleven months passed and out of the blue came an offer of a flat in Twickenham, next door to Teddington.  My husband was gradually getting worse, so good Christian friends fetched him in their car and arranged for us to stay with them while I got the flat straight (I rode in the furniture van).   Sad to say we had only been with our friends a few days when my husband died; he never did go into the flat.

My friends belonged to Twickenham Green Baptist Church and as it was nearer to me than Teddington, I joined too.

I became a Teacher and a Deacon, helped with the Women's Fellowship and with anything else I could do.  I was there form 1972 to 1999 and they were wonderful 22 years of Christian fellowship - with marvellous Christians who gave of themselves in the service of the Lord.  The church has lost members by retirement and death, but they still go forward in faith.

In March 1999 I moved nearer to my sister in Suffolk.  A place was found for me at Reeeve Lodge, and in November of the same year, through God;s grace I was able to move to Trimley St Martin.  I find it difficult to believe I have been here 8 years.  Where to next?  Only God knows that.   He holds the key and I am glad.

Win Walden (1915-2015)

Win was an active member at MRBC until her mid nineties, her last service being the pianist at the Women's Fellowship.   She remained at Reeve Lodge until 2013 when failing health necessitated a move, first to St Mary's Residential Home and finally to Merryfields.  It was always a joy to visit her.   No-one could have been more prepared for the Lord's presence than Win and we praise God for her life and witness.