One might expect that the people who Sir Ranulph Fiennes include in his book “My Heroes” would all be macho-SAS types. After all, the author, the oldest man to conquer Everest, is described as “the world’s greatest explorer”, and has crossed the Antarctic continent unsupported. But surprisingly his eleven heroes include a woman who had worked in
Born in 1902 in
However she felt that God was leading her to serve in China, and that might have been confirmed by hearing of the 50 years’ service there of Dr Griffith John, to whom there is a blue plaque outside Ebenezer Church, near the railway station. She returned to
While doing domestic work for explorer Sir Frances Younghusband, who had travelled extensively in the Far East, Gladys Aylward saved up the cost of the train fare to
But as poet John Donne said, “No man is an island”, and our actions can have unforeseen consequences on others. Gladys had passed information to the Chinese, and this brought repercussions on a Welsh missionary and his mission. Rev. David Davies, whose son
A 1957 biography called “The Small Woman” (she was 4 feet 10 inches tall) inspired the film the following year starring Ingrid Bergman, though Gladys was deeply upset by its inaccuracies. Gladys Aylward, whose Chinese name meant ‘The Virtuous One', died in 1970 at the orphanage she was running in Taiwan, aged 67.
She was the subject of a “This is your life” TV programme, though surely to be among Sir Ranulph Fiennes’s heroes must be a supreme accolade.