Foster, Philip Hedges (1909-1996)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

PHILIP HEDGES FOSTER: born in Banbury, Oxfordshire on 8th February 1909. He was the eldest in a family of three children, two brothers and a sister. Whilst he was still a young lad the family moved from Banbury to Norton and there Philip attended the Norton Council School transferring to Secondary School at Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham. As a young man he was called by God into the ministry of the Methodist Church and entered Hartley Victoria Theological College, Manchester, to commence ministerial training in 1932.

On completion of his training he was stationed at Barrow-in-Furness in 1934. Subsequently, Philip was to serve in a further nine Circuits – Whitehaven, Bottesford, Chadderton, Banbury, Buckingham and Brackley, High Wycombe, London (Finsbury Park) Norwich (Calvert Street) and finally Sleaford from where he retired in 1974. On retirement Philip returned to Norwich to be near his family. 

In another sense, Philip never did retire. Like Jesus, whom he loved and served, he went about doing good. He continued to visit the sick and elderly and many housebound folk greatly valued and appreciated the time he gave to them. He continued to take preaching appointments on the Circuit plan until his final illness. When not preaching he was regular in attendance at public worship and involved himself in church activities, helping Community Lunch Clubs and even in a playgroup. People who knew Philip well speak highly of his preaching and pastoral gifts. 

Whilst minister in Bicester, Oxfordshire, he was the leader of a strong, lively Youth Fellowship that packed the Manse each Sunday evening. For a number of years he hosted family holidays for Methodist Holiday Homes and on these occasions his sense of fun and zest for life would shine through. Philip was a hard-working, dedicated, self-sacrificial minister in the Methodist Church and there are many who testify to the godly influence that he had on their lives and how through his example he demonstrated to them the love of God in Christ and helped them in many practical ways. Throughout almost all of his ministry Philip was supported by his wife,

Cobby, whom he married at Victoria Avenue Methodist Church, Stockton-on-Tees on the 28th July 1938. They were a partnership in the service and work of God’s kingdom. They brought up their adoptive children, Anne from the age of seven and Tony from the age of five — this was their family. Cobby died eleven years ago in 1985. Philip’s other interests were in reading, and he read widely in his thirst for knowledge and understanding. Gardening gave him great pleasure and enjoyment. He loved people and being involved with them. His time was spent constantly in helping others. He was a humble man, always willing to learn from others. He had a lovely sense of humour and fun. A man who lived simply by the standards of this world. A man of great integrity. A man who lived his life in tune with God. Philip died on the morning of the 28th May 1996 in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in the eighty-seventh year of his age and the sixty-second year of his ministry.

Family

Philip was born on 8 February 1909 at Banbury, Oxfordshire, to parents Alfred John, a hairdresser and umbrella maker (1911), and Emily Florence.

He married Cozbi Wrightson (1910-1985) on 28 July 1938 at Stockton, Co. Durham.

Philip died on 28 May 1996 at Norwich, Norfolk.

Circuits

  • Hartley
  • 1934 Barrow in Furness
  • 1937 Whitehaven Low
  • 1939 Bottesford
  • 1942 Oldham Middleton Rd
  • 1945 Banbury
  • 1948 Buckingham &c
  • 1954 High Wycombe
  • 1960 London Finsbury Park
  • 1965 Norwich Calvert St
  • 1970 Sleaford
  • 1974 Norwich (S)

References

Methodist Minutes 1996/32

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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