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May Williams (1920s)




22 May 2023 at 15:42:36

20 February 2024 at 16:23:59

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 cam 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.

Kindest regards,



*The Belgian Congo was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960. The former colony adopted its present name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1964.

**Northern Rhodesia was a British protectorate in south central Africa, now the independent country of Zambia.

***The Copperbelt is a natural region in Central Africa which sits on the border region between northern Zambia and the southern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is known for copper mining.

"She died in 1963, aged 56. This photo, which is presumably her graduation photograph on successful completion of her course, came to light whilst turning through a batch of old papers recently."