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'Continuing still...'

By Tarryn Pegna | 26 Oct 2020

Mary Topham wrote poetry. She could wake up in the morning and just have a whole poem already in her mind – gloriously full of Christian faith and encouragement.

‘Continuing still that plan unfolds
Until one day the story’s told
When Jesus Christ appears again
In glorious majesty to reign.
With hearts and voices we exclaim
“All glory be to his great name!”
The wonder of it all, the sheer wonder of it all.’

Credit: Mary Topham, 1913-2012, Tearfund supporter and lover of Jesus

Mary Topham wrote poetry. She could wake up in the morning and just have a whole poem already in her mind – gloriously full of Christian faith and encouragement.

And that’s not all Mary did. She had a lifetime of stories, experiences, thoughts and words – spoken as well as written. She touched people’s lives. She had loves, hopes and dreams. In many ways, these things live on.

As a young girl, one of Mary’s dreams was to be a missionary. She wasn’t able to go abroad because of health struggles, but she made her local area her mission field. When she was old enough, she joined the Derbyshire Village Mission and travelled around in a caravan (in the very early days this was drawn by horse and cart!) sharing the love of Jesus with people from village to village.

In the late 1940s, she came back to Rugby and met her husband. They shared a deep desire to help people in need and gave many years in service of others. When Mary’s husband died of bowel cancer, Mary was left feeling very much alone.

She found a dear and supportive friend in Lalage Carswell. Lalage and her husband became her family in many ways and looked after Mary. When the time came that Mary needed more care, Lalage found a home across the road from them and was able to visit regularly.

In the care home, Mary continued to be a witness to those she met – residents, guests and caregivers alike – right up until she passed away peacefully in 2012.

‘With hearts and voices…’
But Mary’s story doesn’t end there. The legacy of love and care for people that she built in her lifetime continues. Through a gift left in her will, and through the proceeds from a book of her poems which Lalage found, illustrated and published, she has been supporting Tearfund’s work to help people lift themselves out of poverty.

At Tearfund we know that poverty isn’t part of God’s plan. Mary’s generous gift is now helping change the lives of people in the places she was never able to go. Her commitment to sharing the love of Jesus in the most practical ways and her creative talent are bringing life to people in need, giving hope for their futures.

Click here to request our Legacy of Life pack. It’s got all the information you need to find out how you, like Mary, can leave a gift that will transform lives for generations to come.

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Photo of Tarryn Pegna

Written by Tarryn Pegna