Whilst former England Missionary Training Centre President, Crag Ostler, was serving in his call, he built up a close relationship with the Right Honourable Ralph Assherton, son of Lord and Lady Clitheroe of Downham. Ralph has the responsibility for the day to day running of the village and the family estate, and so he takes a real interest in village life and those who visit. All missionaries in the Missionary Training Centre are given a church history tour of significant sites in the north west of England, including Downham. Over the years, these visits from the missionaries to Downham have led to the development of a relationship and friendship.
Ralph Assherton had always been very supportive and accommodating regarding these regular visits from the missionaries, and would often spend time speaking with President Ostler. They realised they had much in common.
Sadly for President and Sister Ostler, when their assignment at the MTC was completed they did not have an opportunity to meet in person to say goodbye to Ralph.
However he had not forgotten Ralph’s friendship and kindness towards him and the missionaries. Once home, Brother Ostler was determined to express his gratitude to Ralph for the last three years.
Through research, Brother Ostler learnt that one of Ralph's interests was bell ringing. If you go down to Downham on a Tuesday evening you will hear the bells of St Leonard’s church being rung by Ralph!
Brother Ostler organised the presentation of a hand held bell and a personal letter to Ralph, on his behalf- and on the many others who had benefited from Ralph's kindness.
On the 29th June, President Stahli, president of the Missionary Training Centre, Sister Stahli, and a number of missionaries gathered in St Leonard’s church along with Ralph Assherton and others to make the presentation. As part of the presentation, musical items were provided by the missionaries, including a beautiful violin solo.
Ralph then took some time speaking to the missionaries, taking questions, and even gave a demonstration with his new hand bell.
President Stahli and others expressed their thanks to Ralph and his family for the kindness and support they have and continue to extend towards the church.