Thank you to Priscilla for writing to tell us about her mother's time at Mildmay and her life thereafter. We are pleased to record May Williams in our archive and add her story to our Staff Stories.
My mother, May Williams (as she was then), completed a one-year midwifery course at Mildmay Mission Hospital in the late 1920s. She had completed a three-year course at a non-conformist theological college in Wales and was undertaking practical training in preparation for missionary work in Africa.
She was a remarkable woman with considerable linguistic ability. She learnt, as a Welsh speaker, English, Spanish and French together with several African dialects and eventually, at a mission school for the blind, Braille.
It is nice, and I'm sure it would please her, to still be remembered in a place where she had so much enjoyment and satisfaction, almost sixty years after her death.
My mother served in the mission field for 20 years with my father, John Stanly Lougher, who she had met at college, in Nigeria first, and then in the Belgian Congo* until the start of the Second World War.
After the war, they moved to Northern Rhodesia**. My sister's and my education meant they had to leave their remote mission station after five years and move to the Copperbelt*** where my mother was employed as a women's welfare officer, teaching and training the wives of African miners whilst my father continued to preach the gospel and be a prison visitor.
My parents had many adventures and were sometimes in considerable danger, from disease and wild animals, but all this they took for granted and clearly loved being together and serving Africa.
I was sad, as a professional historian (I have a Doctorate in history) to hear that many of Mildmay's records have been lost. it was almost a miracle the way that we suddenly came across so much information about my parents long after my mother's death. We were going through old papers when we came across a grey file and, on opening it, found it contained copies of my mother's letters and reports from the mission filed to sponsoring congregations back home. I am currently editing this archive with my husband for the family so that their lives will be remembered after we have gone.
She died in 1963, aged 56—this photo is presumably her graduation photograph on the successful completion of her course. P F-S PhD