John William Randall

John William Randall: 30th November 1944 – 17th December 2023

John was born in Wimbledon in 1944.  He was an only child but had a happy childhood, marred only by rarely seeing his father, Bill, who was in the Royal Navy and often away.

Sadly, Bill died unexpectedly, aged 49, just as John was about to take his O levels.  While arranging the funeral, John’s mum decided that they should both be confirmed.  John subsequently became involved with Crusaders, the school Christian Union, and the church in New Malden.

Sport was also an extremely important to John; hockey, cricket and squash took much of his time at Oxford.  The Christian Union also continued to play a large part in his life along with the student life at St Ebbe’s and St Aldate’s. 

While still a student, John met Marie, and when John decided to go to Nigeria as a teacher after finishing university, they got married so they could go together – the beginning, as Marie says, of a very long adventure. 

The two years in Nigeria were a huge learning experience for the young couple.  Their eldest child, Phil, was born there.  Back in England John did various jobs including working at a wood yard in Bexhill and teaching French and hockey at a public school. 

In 1971, John and Marie moved to Moretonhampstead and John worked with those with mental health issues at Starcross Hospital, beginning his calling to social work.

Soon Phil gained a brother, James and then a sister, Kirstie.  John, a natural Dad, was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren.  He loved playing cricket and football on the lawn and beach with all of them. 

John had a variety of jobs in social work with Devon County Council – child guidance, a policy advisor at County Hall, and research posts, but his ‘retirement’ job of post-adoption work with Families for Children was probably the one that meant the most to him.  He was also a trustee of the Children’s Hospice South West for some years. 

John and Marie travelled far and wide including to Eastern Canada, New Zealand and Madagascar, but perhaps the most influential chapter for them began with their journey to Syria in 2009.  This was followed by many trips to Palestine and Nicaragua, where John saw and experienced much which challenged and shaped his faith.

Church was a continuing activity, first in Chudleigh where the Rev’d Christopher Pidsley was a good friend and huge influence.  After Marie and John started worshipping in Moretonhampstead, the encouragement of Rev’d Preb Simon Franklin led to John’s decision to train with the South West Ministry Training Course as a Licensed Lay Minister.  John loved taking services in all the Moreton Group churches – when ill, he even admitted to missing writing sermons!  Latterly, John joined the staff of the course he had trained on and really enjoyed encouraging future lay ministers to embrace their roles.  He was a much-loved tutor and colleague.  Continuing learning and reading as much as possible were John’s priorities throughout his life.  Book-buying continued to the end!

John was emphatic in not wanting people to remember him as a plaster saint – he was very human, fallible and frustrated with many things.  But those who knew and loved him know that his life was one of constant service.  Running through it like a golden thread was his huge heart and love for others.  He would get very angry at injustice – some of his many poems, are evidence of this.  A quiet man who generally preferred to remain in the background, John would nevertheless stand up for those who didn’t have a voice.  Above all, his love of God shone through and his ability to share that love with all who met him was very special.  There can be no doubt that, at the end of his last journey, he heard those words we all hope to hear – ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’