The Revd Frank Wiltshire: 1921-2019
The Revd Frank Wiltshire died on 1 March 2019, a month short of his 98th birthday
Frank was born in Kingston upon Hull in 1921, the youngest of a family of six. He left elementary school at the age of 13 in order to attend a two year course at a junior day commercial school which equipped him with many excellent skills which would serve him well in his later work.
He became convinced at an early age that God was calling him to train for ministry but this had to be delayed due to World War II, in which Frank saw service in the Airborne Division of the Royal Army Medical Corps – serving in India, Sumatra, Java and Singapore. It was typical of Frank that he chose not to say a great deal about his wartime experiences, but he was among the first contingent to be parachuted into Sumatra to relieve British and Dutch prisoners of war. After the Japanese surrender he was given leave to fly home in order to marry his sweetheart, Dorothy, who was to be his wife and tireless companion for 70 years until her death in 2016.
In 1946 Frank commenced his ministerial training at Rawdon Baptist College and in 1949 he was ordained and inducted to the pastorate of Castlegate Baptist Church, Berwick-upon-Tweed. In 1952 he moved to Abbey Road, Barrow in Furness where, in addition to ministering to the congregation there, he also supervised the rebuilding of the church which had been badly damaged by bombing during the war. He, and Dorothy, also developed groups for Guides and Brownies and Scouts and Cubs – as well as a Christian Endeavour Society.
Then, in 1956, Frank was called to the joint pastorates at Astwood Bank and Cookhill in Worcestershire, and so began a work of great significance in his ministry and life of the then Worcestershire Baptist Association. He was appointed as Honorary Secretary of the Association – a ministry which he performed with great zeal and distinction for some 22 years - in conjunction with service on the Baptist Union Council and the General Committee of the West Midlands Area of the Union. This was indeed where his earlier secretarial training became a real 'bonus'. While at Astwood Bank, Frank and Dorothy formed Boys' and Girls' Brigade companies, and Frank also served as a governor of the newly created Ridgeway County Secondary School, and as Organising Secretary of the Warwickshire Free Church Youth Committee, where he was responsible for arranging several residential courses for young people.
In 1964 Frank was called to serve as minister of Payton Street Baptist Church, Stratford upon Avon, but this did not bring his work as Secretary of the Worcestershire Baptist Association to an end since Stratford, though in Warwickshire, was also a member church of that Association. His ministry there resulted, once again with Dorothy's help, in the early formation of Boys' and Girls' Brigade companies, as well as a thriving youth work. There was significant growth in membership and attendance at Sunday worship, as well as many other activities which led, in turn, to a major redevelopment of the church building. When Frank 'retired' in 1986 he was accorded the honorary title of Pastor Emeritus in recognition of his dedicated and indefatigable ministry at Payton Street and his significant service within the town and area.
Both before and after retirement Frank also ministered as a free church chaplain to several South Warwickshire hospitals, and also lent support to the Stratford Council of Churches and Stratford Ministers' Fraternal - but despite the immense amount of time and energy which he devoted to his ministry, he was also an avid gardener – both in his own garden and in nearby allotment plots – his beautiful flowers and mouth watering vegetables receiving high commendation!
Throughout his years of ministry. Frank was steadfastly supported by Dorothy who demonstrated that she was a great partner in this team. Many tributes have been paid to Frank for the way in which his life, example and ministry have touched the lives of so many people over so many years.
To God be given all the praise!