Baker, Elizabeth, MBE

Wesley deaconess, born on 22 February 1902 at Thornton Dale near Pickering, N. Yorks into a prosperous merchant family with farming interests, she was educated at Pickering Grammar School and Harrow Gate Boarding School. The family's Methodist links led her to offer for missionary service and in 1927 she entered the Wesley Deaconess Order. After training at Ilkley and Selly Oak and serving in Wilmslow and Southwold, she was accepted in 1930 for service in Ceylon. Posted to Kalmunai in the Eastern Province, she moved in 1935 to Puttur in the Northern Province, and the rest of her ministry was divided between there and Batticaloa on the east coast. Retiring in 1959, she decided to remain in Ceylon and to use her share of the family inheritance to help launch a new project at Kandawalai near Paranthan in the Northern Province. She was involved with two Anglican Tamil missionaries, the Rev. and Mrs. A.C. Thambyrajah, and others in developing Navajeevanam ('New Life'), a settlement providing a refuge for homeless young men and the mentally and physically handicapped, and training for vulnerable boys.

She was awarded an MBE in 1980 and died on 1 July 1987.

Although Navajeevanam was destroyed during the more recent internal violence, funds for its re-establishment were made available in 2013.

  • 'Reviving agriculture in northern Sri Lanka', in Methodist Recorder, 31 May 2012