Gibbins, Dr. Ronald Charles

Born a Cockney within sound of Bow Bells on 19 September 1922, he was once deseribéd as ‘small in stature, but a giant of a man’, who rose to be appointed minister of Wesley’s City Road Chapel. At the age of 10 he joined the choir of St. Mark’s, Dalston, but whens scolded for the prank of letting off fireworks during a Mothers’ Union meeting he left to join the local Methodist Church.

During World War II he served as an RAF armourer, suffering appalling facial burns in an accident in which only three of his sixteen comrades survived. Many months of painful plastic surgery in the hands of Sir Archibald McIndoe followed. After the war he was accepted for the ministry and sent to Didsbury College, Bristol, but was prevented from going as a missionary in China and was sent instead ind to the Bradford Mission, where he met his future wife Olive. After several northern industrial towns, he was sent in 1957 to the new town of Basildon, where in the absence of a chapel he operated from a caravan. Then in 1964 he moved back to the East End with the formidable task of rebuilding the Mission on Commercial Road, Stepney, which became under his leadership a centre for sociological studies Among his ecumenical neighbours were men like the Catholic priest Derek Warlock and the Anglican Bishop Trevor Huddlestone, and the dockland Union leader Jack Dash. A growing interest in Sociology gained him a doctorate from St. Louis,, Missouri.

In 1978 he was appointed superintendant minister of , City Road.which was undergoing major restoration and he was involved in its reopening service, attended by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh and many leading figures from the Methodist world. In retirement he and his wife travelled worldwide, settling in 2012 in Tavistock, where he died on 26 August 2015


Methodist Recorder, 8 October 2015