Rev. John Storer, 1958-1971

Rev John Storer

By 1958 there were many young people in the church, and the appointment of John Storer as our minister was the catalyst for the formation of the Newcastle branch of the Unitarian Young Peoples League (UYPL). John arranged for two national officers of the League to come to Newcastle and explain all about it. One of those officers was Neville Kenyon, who became the President of the General Assembly in 2010. The UYPL met every Saturday night in the Turner Hall (then known simply as the Minor Hall) and had a regular programme of activities, including dances, to which members of the Stockton UYPL were invited, and reciprocal visits to Stockton, as well as holidays to Great Hucklow and national activities. We had regular hikes and outdoor activities in the summer and John was a great supporter of the UYPL and all its activities. He had a rapport with the young people and it was no surprise to find he was skilled at magic tricks. John also introduced the Youth Service into church life, in which the entire service was planned and delivered by the UYPL.

John and his wife Jean entered enthusiastically into all aspects of church life, from the UYPL to the Women’s League and the Durant Players. They had two children, David and Margaret, who came into the Sunday School. Sadly, after 15 years, a breakdown in understanding and communication between minister and committee led to John leaving the ministry and moving into teaching. The family stayed in Newcastle for many years, but eventually John and Jean moved to Ipswich where Margaret and her husband lived. When John died in 2017, Margaret wrote, “He had spent the last few months in a care home very near to us …. We were able to spend time reflecting on happier times, in particular he enjoyed talking about his life with mum in Newcastle.”

Maurice Large