In 1960 Dr Lodge had (what was then) the revolutionary idea of producing an ecumenical magazine covering the Illingworth area. The magazine started as one sheet of folded A4 paper and was produced and edited by Dr Lodge in his bedroom using an old duplicating machine (much to the annoyance of the rest of the family).
The magazine gradually increased in size and reputation and included articles from and about St Mary's, St Malachy's and Illingworth Moor Methodist.
In 1977, to help safeguard the magazine, Dr Lodge created and endowed a charitable trust to finance and help administer same. The trustees of this trust were to be the editor and one representative from each of the churches. Sadly Dr Lodge died in 1982 and the Messenger had its first hurdle to overcome.
Although finances were available (via the trust) manpower and technical expertise was required to keep the Messenger going.
Geoff and Caroline Widdop (with some technical training from Ralph Moore) however stepped forward to take over the production and editing of the magazine with help from Jenny Heavyside with typing etc. That was in 1982 and Geoff is still involved today although most other aspects of the Messenger have changed completely.
The magazine was originally produced with an old gestetnor duplicating machine and Geoff apparently remembers many production sessions finishing at 2.00 am. Technology (even with the Messenger) has progressed and production is now much quicker and easier using a modern copier / duplicator.
As the magazine grew in size and number of copies, more people were required to help and gradually a team of volunteers were responsible for folding, stapling and distributing the magazine, the volunteers coming from all three churches.
Ralph Moore occasionally helped / advised Dr Lodge in the early days of the Messenger and helped Geoff and Caroline take over in 1982. As the magazine progressed Ralph became more and more involved with him eventually taking over as the editor with Geoff continuing to be involved mainly on the production side. Ralph's many interests and contacts enabled the magazine to progress further so that it became a 20 page edition with (at its peak) 1500 copies being printed.
Unfortunately Ralph passed away in May 2007 and the Messenger was at another crossroads.
Gradually various volunteers have come forward with offers of help and hopefully this article is part of the new Messenger. It could be that we have to take a few steps backwards to get established again but watch this space. Geoff Widdop is still looking after production (although having done this for 24 years he is looking for someone to gradually take over from him, further volunteers please!) and Julie Gatenby is at the moment taking the lead in pulling the magazine together.
Further volunteers are always needed and you should contact either Geoff Widdop or Julie Gatenby or one of the Messenger trustees (David Parking - St Mary's, Philip Moran - St Malachy's or Michael Nicholl - Illingworth Moor). You can use our Contact web page to get in touch.
In 2011 Julie Gatenby stepped down from the post of Editor. Thanks go to Julie for all the work she has done and we wish her well for the future. Justin Appleyard has taken over this position. Geoff Widdop also relinquished his post after 24 years of printing the Messenger. We owe Geoff a huge debt of gratitude for all his magnificent work over such a long period of time. Peter and Elaine Mitchell are now responsible for distribution.
Unfortunately, Justin could not continue as editor because of work committments and we thank him for all his hard work .After a worrying few months a new volunteer has stepped forward. We welcome Siobhan Moor, a young college student with links to the United Reform Church, as our new editor. Siobhan has already produced her first edition of The Messenger and we look forward to working with Siobhan in the future.
In 2015 Siobhan Moor left the area to study at Preston University and we thank her very much for editing The Messenger for the past 4 years. We have been very fortunate as Irene Mulhall has agreed to take over the editorship of the magazine, initially for 6 months and then she will review the situation. We wish her well and the September issue, her first, was excellent.