The Revd Derek George Taylor: 1927-2018
Experienced minister, Boys' Brigade captain, hospital chaplain and British Legion padre
The Revd Derek George Taylor died at home on 13 April 2018. He had been minister of Llandudnu (English), Stourbridge, Cradley Heath/Netherton, Harlesden, Burton Latimer and Walgrave Churches and moderator at Wellingborough and Kettering Carey Churches and a frequent preacher at Aldwinkle Church as well as several other Northamptonshire Baptist, Independent and URC churches.
Derek was born in Didcot, then in Berkshire, the son Annie Ethel Taylor nee Leonard and Joseph James known as Jock. They were both Londoners from poor backgrounds. Jock was an underage soldier in WW1 and got injured at Gallipoli, he joined the Royal Army Ordinance Corp after the war and was stationed in the Rhineland and then at Didcot Army base, when Derek was born.
Jock and Derek were the first two people baptised at Didcot Baptist Church. Derek’s youth was very involved in Boys Brigade, Christian Endeavour and sports. He went to Wallingford grammar school and was in the cricket, hockey, football and cross country teams. He failed an army medical in 1944, because he wanted to follow his father into the army.
Jock volunteered for frontline service in 1939 and was involved in Dunkirk and raids on Norway and France, getting hit in the face by a German’s rifle butt. Jock trained as a Commando in Scotland. In 1945 Jock was injured in training in East Africa came home in a coma and died in 1946 and has a war grave in Didcot Parish Churchyard.
Derek was accepted to train for the ministry at Regent’s Park College, Oxford which he started in 1945. He had already been taking prayer meetings and services in the Berkshire village chapels. A benefactor who witnessed these services paid for Derek’s college fees and his mother found him £1 a week to live on.
His cohort were mainly ex-military, and he loved training, being taught by Ernie Payne and attending New Road Church, Oxford where the Revd Walter Bottoms was minister. At that time Regent’s Park was a private hall being part of St Catherine’s College. His college football team was made up of trainee clergy from the Roman, Anglican, Methodist and Baptist churches. Derek was tipped to get a blue, but never played for the University. At that time students had to take a Tripos exam in theology, history and Greek and during his studies his lecturers included; AJP Taylor and CS Lewis.
Derek passed his History and Theology, but never his Greek, so left College with a preaching qualification in 1950.
On 12 May 1946 Derek saw Grace Winifred Lanchbury at the Sunday School Anniversary of New Road Baptist Church, Oxford. Grace’s family were stalwart members of Botley Baptist Church. A group of friends dared him to invite her to see the play `The Little Minister’, and after that Grace and Derek courted until 12 August 1950 when they married at New Road Church. Derek had supported Grace through catching polio in 1947.
Derek’s first church was at Llandudnu 1950-55 where he earned £4 per week and here two children were born, Penny and Andy. He then moved to Stourbridge 1955-61, in Worcestershire where Tim was born, then to Cradley Heath and Netherton 1961-67 as a joint pastorship, where Mark was born. From 1967-72 Derek was minister at Harlesden in London and in 1970 was earning £10 per week, followed by just about 20 years at Burton Latimer in Northamptonshire (pictured) and afterwards a retirement pastorship at Walgrave Church. He acted as moderator at Wellingborough and Kettering Carey Churches. Derek continued preaching at Aldwinkle, Ringstead and Cranford until 2002, often preaching three services on a Sunday.
Derek only didn’t do church matters on Saturday and even this rule was often broken when he went to area meetings and church socials.
Derek was a BB captain for many years camping every summer from 1967 to 1990. He reformed the 1st Burton Latimer Company and joined in many North Northamptonshire battalion activities, particularly camps with the 1st Kettering, Desborough and Matlock companies. He would still play sports with the boys well into his 50s and was always a competitive sportsman. He loved the mix of discipline, sports and comradeship that the BB offered. Grace always attended camp as one of the cooks.
Derek was a hospital chaplain at several places and was a British Legion padre until he was 90, still leading the local Remembrance services.
He was a long time board member of the Baptist Missionary Society. He encountered exorcisms in the 1970s and was suspicious of the charismatic cult like churches. He was also involved in divine healing through the Howcroft Trust.
Derek put great effort into making weddings and funerals very personal, and these were his best services. He took his own mother’s funeral as his last act of being a son to her. She was so proud he was a minister. After a service of one of the first victims of AIDS, he was asked to become a trustee of Harvey’s, a support line for those with HIV.
Derek is survived by his wife Grace, four children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, with another expected soon.