At Roffey Place, things were uncomfortable. Colin Urquhart, who was Bob Gordon’s colleague in the joint ministry, had returned from constant ministry tours around the world to announce that he felt God was asking him to spend more time in the UK. To do this, he would need somewhere more permanent than he currently had to base his family and his team. The last couple of years had seen Bob Gordon expand his ministry such that there wasn’t room for both men and their supporting staff at Roffey. I was working on the third double decker bus, and also on producing a growing amount of publicity since the work had expanded so much. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to go on the ministry trips so much now, as the team had expanded. This was a relief, as with a baby and a toddler at home, life was quite busy enough.
It had become obvious over the spring of 1989 that Bob Gordon wasn’t going to stand in Colin’s way, if he wanted to move into Roffey Place, and that we would have to move The Kings Coaches and all the other parts of the ministry to some other base. This was distressing for all involved because there was a strong friendship between the team members of both men. It was especially difficult for Donna and I, who with a small family had no desire to move, having only been in the house on Hawksbourne road for just over a year.
In the end, an agreement was made between Colin and Bob, and Bob agreed to move from Roffey Place. Some property that was owned by the fellowship was sold, and Bob was given enough money to finance the renting of property for his ministry for the next two years. The Kings Coach team was divided into regional areas, with a base in Scotland, Wales and Norwich. The administration base was going to be in Shrewsbury, and I needed to be there as the graphic designer. Donna and I had no desire of staying in Horsham, our friends John and Angie Hindmarsh were going to set up a teaching base in Norwich and I knew that my job designing five buses hadn’t come to an end yet. We were going to be closer to Lawrence and Eileen, but a long way from my parents. Donna was increasingly feeling on the edge of Bob’s ministry and the team, and it was a very hard few months as we processed what was going to happen. If I had known that my father had only a year to live, I am certain I wouldn’t have moved.
I went up to Shrewsbury to look for property that was on the south east of the town, nearest to Eaton Mascott Hall, a country house Bob had rented and from where the ministry would be based, and where I was going to work. Since we had two small children, Donna wasn’t able to come with me, but she told me as I left that if I saw a house that would be suitable, then I should put an offer in on it. Sure enough I did, and my offer was accepted without Donna having the chance to view the house.
We sold 37 Hawsksbourne Road on the 23rd June 1989 for £84,000 and bought 9 Garmston Road, Shrewsbury for £68,000. It was a four bedroomed semi, (the house at Roffey was three bedroomed semi), and was cheaper, meaning that we could pay off John Rowell, the bursar at Roffey who had a share in our house. He made a good profit on the sixteen months we owned the house.
The couple who bought the house had just got married. When they came round to view the property it was obvious that they were also Christians. Since they couldn’t afford the price we were asking, and we couldn’t afford to drop because of the price of the Shrewsbury House, we suggested that we both go away to pray about it. The following day we were all in contact, feeling that we should meet in the middle and agreed on the price. It was a joy to know that this was the third set of Christians owning the house, and we prayed blessing on them as they took ownership. That Christmas they sent us a christmas presents for Luke and Alana which was very touching.
I moved our furniture into the house in Shrewsbury on my own, it was just far more practical. It just was too complicated to bring Donna and the children to a new house, instead they stayed at Lawrence and Eileens for a week and then they all met me in Wales for a holiday. It was a lonely week for me, moving furniture around in an empty house and not knowing anyone else in Shrewsbury – the rest of the team hadn’t moved. I hoped it was going to work out ok and wondered if I had made a big mistake expecting my small family to move a couple of hundred miles away from the community they knew. Moving the furniture on my own did my back in unfortunately. I was in a fair amount of pain in Wales, but we had a great time anyhow.
I love this clip of Luke doing exactly what Grandad is doing.