The Revd Roy William Thomas Fellows: 1936-2020
Anyone who knew Roy would have been conscious of his real and deep faith in God, his commitment to Jesus Christ and energetic desire to make him known to others
Roy was born on 3 July 1936 to William and Alice Fellows in Bordesley Green, Birmingham. He was raised in a Christian family who worshipped in several traditions but settled with a Brethren Assembly which made a deep impression on Roy in his early years.
Roy was educated at George Dixon Grammar School but his academic progress was hindered by ill health and he left school to work in a pharmacy. He made his first informed commitment to Jesus as his Saviour in 1947. However three years later, as a result of a spiritual crisis , Roy made a defining commitment to God and experienced the Holy Spirit in a new way and with it he felt a strong call to Christian service. Within a short time Roy began preaching both in churches and in the open- air alongside his brother in law (Leslie Hardwick).
During his time of National Service as a conscientious objector Roy worked in a hospital and met his wife to be, Oriel. They were married on 20 September 1958. Following National Service , Roy studied for three years at the Birmingham Bible Institute after which he felt a call to work in the inner city of Birmingham where he served full-time at Ladywood Gospel Hall. This was not an easy option since at that time Ladywood was surrounded by slum houses which were later knocked and replaced by high rise flats. His work with young people led to opportunities to teach Religious Education in a local secondary school.
Roy went on to study to become a teacher in RE and Music and he subsequently became the Head of RE at the Sir Gilbert Claughton Grammar School in Dudley, and later the Head of RE and Community Studies at Lea Mason C. of E. Comprehensive in Birmingham. During this time, he continued in church leadership and was greatly supported by his wife Oriel who worked part time as a nurse while also looking after their children and the many visitors who called into their open home.
His work and church service became very integrated; for more than 20 years he led Christian camps for young people from the schools he taught in and many came to know Christ. He served in pastoring, teaching, evangelism, ecumenical engagement within Birmingham and also at Lee Abbey in Devon where he and Oriel volunteered in a pastoral role.
Taking early retirement at the age of 53 Roy was enabled to extend his ministry as the Ladywood Fellowship became part of Riverside Fellowship. He served as a congregational leader in this new arrangement. In 1991 he and Oriel visited their daughter Alison and husband Ian who were serving at Chengelo School in Zambia. This link and love for Zambia developed further and they were called to work as volunteers for four years as a teacher, nurse and houseparents from 1995-99. Roy and Oriel loved working with both the young people in the school and the local church leaders and described this as ‘one of the most rewarding periods in our ministry’; anyone visiting Roy’s home would see the many photos of Zambia on the walls and be enthralled by the stories he would tell.
Following their return to the UK Roy and Oriel felt called to Kirkby Stephen and became the minister of Upper Eden Baptist Church in January 2000. He tirelessly served the church and community with a strong focus on mission. Subsequently Roy was recognised and ordained as a Baptist minister in 2005. During this time he was an enthusiastic attendee at Keswick Convention and often took other people with him.
Roy retired from the ministry at Upper Eden Baptist Church in February 2006 but continued to engage energetically in Christian service in local church, youth work and mission initiatives. As age progressed his health diminished, but the light of Christ within him burnt strongly and his evident joy in His Lord remained undimmed as he continued to worship and share fellowship in local churches and particularly at Winton United Church and Kirkby Stephen Evangelical Church.
Alison Richardson (Roy's daughter) and John Claydon