Remembering a Servant of the Lord   5 comments

On December 19, 2009 at 2:07  pm, Thomas Henry Langridge left earth to be with his Saviour, Jesus Christ. His earthly body will be interred at noon 8 January 2010 in Bexhill Cemetary.

Tom was 97, born 08/09/1912 in Nutley, Ashdown Forrest in East Sussex, England. There were 8 children in the family and Tom had a twin brother Jim  who died earlier this year. Tom was the last in his immediate family to die. Both Tom and his brother Jim entered the profession of hairdressing. Jim chose barbering while Tom took on all and sundry.

Tom first married Ivy.  She seemed to be the love of his life and together they had a son, but sadly both the baby and Ivy died at the birth.

Later Tom married again, this time to Elsie May (Maisie) Rapley in July 1937. They met at Hamilton Hall a Brethren fellowship where they were both SundaySchool Teachers.

In March of 1938 Tom’s only living son, Ian was born not long before he had to leave for duty in World War II.

Tom on the left in his uniform of the Royal Engineers. He also served in the Royal Artillery installing search lights all over England. When the allies defeated Germany, Tom was sent as part of the Army of Occupation ending up in the Post Office. Tom’s haversack always contained many copies of the Pocket New Testament and he gave them out to anyone who would take one. During this time  he was approached by his Army Chaplin who had heard of Tom’s ministry to fellow soldiers as well as the people of Germany, and suggested he should apply to become a vicar in the Church of England. Maise, his wife and good woman of the Brethern Church was appalled and so Vicar Langridge did not materialise.

Above and on the right  is a formal family portrait taken about 1946 or ’47. Like many children of his generation, Ian only only knew his father from photos until he returned in 1946 from the Occupation Army where he had been stationed in Germany.

Tom has long served His beloved Lord beginning preaching at 17 going by bus to Ashburnham to the old chapel that met in a barn before they moved to the reading rooms of Ashburnham Estate.  He had a heart for youth and was key in the ministry of Young Life in Hastings in the `1950’s.

The picture on the right shows one of the mission teams Tom led to Mountfield. The accordianist is Alan Blythe former pianist at the Tab in Hastings. Tom would see as many as a 100 young people turn up for the Young Life Meetings and from those gatherings on Saturday nights when he asked for volunteers to go with him to a church the next day to take a service, he would have more eager young volunteers than he could take.  He felt it was crucial for the health of the church to see young people trained up in frontline ministry.

Though Tom was a long time member of the Brethern Church he went to any church or chapel who wanted to hear the Gospel message. It didn’t always make him popular with his Brethern fellow elders but he loved and lived by the scripture, “Here am I Lord, send me.” Something his son Ian, inherited from him.

One story recalled by Ian, was on the occassion of a celebration at St. Mary’s, Battle. Dean Naylor asked Tom to say a ‘few’ words and Tom took flight and gave a powerful Gospel message. On another occasion Canon Griffiths asked Tom to speak at St. Leonard’s Parish Church. The first time I stood in that amaizing pulpit I took great joy in remembering that ‘Dad’ had stood there years before me. When Battle Baptist had dwindled to a very few in number, Reg Borman and others asked Tom to help organize a tent mission in the market field ( now the top carpark of Battle.) A week long  tent mission saw several put their trust in Christ as Saviour and saw the beginning of the expansion of what is now a thriving chuch. During each week Reg and Tom held a Young Life meeting at the Battle Baptist.

Tom was never ordained or earned his living through ministry. He was a hairdresser all of his working life. His first shop was in London Road, Bexhill and then he moved to Sidley, where his son, Ian was born. Shortly after this he was called up and had no time to close the business that was left to his wife, Maisie to clear out and put in store for his hoped return. On returning from the war he was offered a job at Jack Eryies shop in Battle which is now Llyod’s Bank. Upon Jack’s death some years later Tom ran the business for awhile. His clients encouraged him to set up his own shop. He did this taking on the top floor of the old fire station in Battle. After some years he moved down the high street to a shop that had been Hornbrooks radio & television, next to the Battle Book Shop on one side and Farmer’s Direct Dairies on the other side. He remained there until he retired and was bought out by Intrim. He counted among his clients Lords and Lady’s and both the Dimbley boys, Richard and Jonathan who were students at Glengourse School, as well as many of the locals from farmers to townies. One story Ian remembers: His friend, Tim Everard had a full head of hair and a large beard and Tim’s next door neighbour,Willy Lane who was folically challenged were sitting side by side in the chairs. Willy asked Tom, “Why is it you charge me the same as you do Tim?” Tom replied, “I have to charge you to find the hair.”

After Tom retired he and Maisie moved to Caterham, his son’s inherited bungalow. He was first invloved with the Brethern Church in the valley where he drew up plans to replace the tin shed with brick work. When the elders wanted to get a bank loan to do the new building Tom suggested that it should be put to the congregation first to seek an intrest free loan. As a result the building went ahead through the faith of the people. Finding it difficult travelling down to the valley he and Maisie moved to Oakhall Chapel on the flat. There they helped in any way that they could.

Tom taking a service when ever asked especially after Maisie died.

When Oakhall got involved in helping refugees through the Baptist Church in Basci Petrovic that was then Yugoslavia and is now Serbia, Tom started to make people aware of the need for good second hand clothes and food. He strongly urged people to become aware of the desperate need of the refugees in the former Yugoslavia. He asked Ian if he would drive him up to the Oakhall Ministries headquarters. Otford Manor near Sevenoaks to deliver a load of donated food and clothing. When they arrived Tom enquired if they had any room on the coach that was taking people to Yugoslavia to encourage and help the refugees. Judy, Ian Mayo’s wife said, “Why would you want to know?” Tom replied, “I have been raising funds and collecting for these people and I would like to go and see the people who are on the receiving end.” Judy replied, “At your age, 84?” He turned to Ian and said, “Ian, you’re not doing anything, would you come with me?” Ian replied, “Yes, I will come with you but I will not get involved in the organisation. I will look after you and be your carer, only.” Of course God had other ideas and He used the trip to draw Ian back into the fold.

On the left Tom and another volunteer.            Above Serbian families welcoming Tom.

The father, Tom, continued to lead Ian as he did another 10 trips and now finds himself serving the Lord in Latvia.

After Maisie died, Tom took up knitting animals and dolls to help support schools in Jamaica Here he is intent on knitting one of his Cinderella dolls. He still had his sight at this point and was using it for the glory of the Lord by supporting the needy schools in Jamaica. In recognition of Tom’s diligent and perservering fund raising, the Jamaican Association in England and the charity Oak Beams recommended that the library at Fyfffes Pen School be named the Tom Langridge Library.

When we went to Jamaica on our honeymoon in 2006, Tom contributed toward some much needed equipment for another school, Ebenezer School, way up in the mountains of South Jamaica. Tom learned of this school as he and Ian were relaxing on a beach during their trip to see the Tom Langridge Library in 1999. A lady approached Tom on the beach and began a conversation the end result being Tom was made aware of another needy school, Ebenezer. Above you see Tom and I wearing shirts given to us 3, Ian, Tom and I in appreciation for the welcomed equipment for Ebenezer School. For many visits to Dad after this he always asked, “Am I wearing my Jamaican shirt?”

Shortly after moving into Lauriston Christian Nursing Home Tom enjoyed participating in the morning fellowship meetings. Often if a speaker did not turn up the bubbly social director would ask, “Tom do you have anything to share this morning?” And away he would go. After a time he struggled to attend as his hearing and sight we almost totally gone and he had difficulty connecting with the people.

Often when we went to visit he would regale us with remembered jokes, the one I remember the best was:  A church warden went to the Vicar and said, “The church door is looking quite bad an uninviting” “Alright, ” said the Vicar and gave him money to go and buy the paint. The Warden, being very careful with the Lord’s money, bought only, what he thought, was enough to do the job. Returning to the church he began painting the door and halfway down he realized he didn’t have enough to finish the job so being frugal he added thinner to the paint and began to finish the second half of the door. But toward the bottom he once again had to add thinner to make the paint stretch. During the night a driving rain storm hit the area and upon arriving the next morning the Warden found a sorry sight, the paint had all but run completely off the bottom half of the door. Hat in hand he went to the Vicar and confessed his misdeed. The Vicar being very understanding gave the Warden more money for sufficient paint and said to the Warden in his most compassionate voice, “Go and thin no more.” Oh how we laughed, remembering.  The one that always got the staff at the home was his response to their question, “Tom, how are you feeling?” His standard reply to any who asked this, was always, “With me hands.”

Tom was a great encourager, always helping people to find a way forward but never wanting recognition. He was extremely generous with both his time and financial resources. Last year at Christmas time he encouraged our friends here in Latvia to once again gather donated hats, scarves and gloves to give out as warming gifts. He started the ball rolling with a generous donation that spurred the project on for one more year.

Though we are saddened that he has left us we are REJOICING that he is in the arms of the One he loved and served so faithfully for so many years. ‘See you one day, Dad.’


5 responses to “Remembering a Servant of the Lord

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  1. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the homecoming of His saints!

  2. Thank you for sharing, Tom’s life with us.such precious memories.

    Roger and Val
    • Thank you for commenting, yes the memories are precious as is the reality that he is at peace.

  3. I must have read this before it was complete! I’m so glad to hear the rest of the story…what a blessed legacy Tom leaves…beautiful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it all up and bless me.

  4. Yes I published it accidentally before it was finished. I am glad it blessed you it did us as well as we remembered and chose the pictures.


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