A THANKSGIVING service for the life of John Williams Garland was held at Temple Methodist Church on Saturday, January 17, following a cremation at Taunton Crematorium. He passed away, aged 88 years, on January 5 at St George’s Residential Home, Taunton, where he had happily lived for the last 15 years of his life and where he enjoyed excellent care.

Over 100 family and friends attended the thanksgiving, which was lad by Rev Bruce Thompson. The service celebrated his deep faith, his love of learning and his passion for standing up against injustice, particularly for those unable to stand up for themselves.

He had been brought up in Ebbw Vale in the 1920’s by his stepmother, and had no opportunity to go to University, as he would certainly have done today. He served in Egypt and Italy in the Signals during World War 2. He moved to North Curry on his marriage and then to Taunton after being widowed, working in administration and finance for the Police, The County Council and finally the South West Road Construction Unit. In the 1960’s, whilst working full time and also helping on his father-in-law’s farm, he studied in his spare time by correspondence with London University, graduating with a BSc (econ).

He used his retirement to pursue a wealth of activities. He attended, amongst many other things, creative writing classes at SCAT, where he discovered an ability to write poetry, several of his poems being included in the thanksgiving service. He trained as a lay preacher in the Methodist Church and was always very active in study groups and in church life. He was loved in the work of the forerunner of the Taunton Open Door project for the homeless and was a member of Somerset Racial Equality Council. His chief concern was the work of the World Development Movement and Amnesty International.

He was a tireless letter writer to heads of government and MP’s both at home and abroad on behalf of victims of torture and prisoners of conscience (particularly in Zimbabwe) and in support of fairer trade agreements.

His family and closest friend are extremely grateful to the staff at St George’s Comeytrowe Surgery, Musgrove Oncology and the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital for their care of him over this last year.

Donations in his memory, for the work of Amnesty International, may be sent to E. White & Son Ltd, Funeral Directors, 138/139 East Reach, Taunton, TA1 3HN.