Tributes and eulogies at the thanksgiving service of BSS Gindiri’s pioneer principal

BSS, GHS and COCIN missionaries gathered at Purley Baptist Church (South East London)  on Friday 20th May 2016 to celebrate the life of the pioneer principal of BSS Gindiri, late Mr. Owen David Wilmshurst, who died at the age of 101 on the 28th of April 2016 in London.

Mr Wilmshurst who became the first principal of the prestigious school in 1950 laid the foundation for academic excellence, thought leadership, service, discipline and christian values.

A seasoned chemist and mathematician, Mr. Wilmshurst graduated the first set of students from the school in 1955 (a total of 16 students which included late J D Gomwalk, Prof. Ochapa Onazi, James Lot, Ayo Abifarin). He was then appointed warden of the entire COCIN Gindiri school compound (comprising BSS, GHS, teachers college and the school for the blind etc) in 1956.

Late Mr. Wilmshurst went on to take on several other roles within the COCIN mission before returning to England in 1963.

He is survived by his wife Connie Wilmshurst (99 years of age), five children – Jessica, Elizabeth, Andrew, Tim and Steve Wilmshurst, 12 grand children and several great grand children.

The thanks giving service was a true celebration of the life, legacy and purpose of a man who became a pioneer, a mentor, pace-setter, father, grandfather and husband – as such, several individuals paid glowing tributes and eulogies to a life well spent.

These included his children (Jessica, Elizabeth, Andrew, Tim and Steve), Mr. Geoffrey Dearsley (second principal of BSS Gindiri from 1956), Mr. Maurice Cottom (third principal of BSS Gindiri), Mr. John Dean (former teacher at BSS Gindiri), Rev Alan Chilver and members of the Purley baptist church where Mr Wilmshurst worshiped.

Travelling from Nigeria to attend the event, were Prof. Suleman Bogoro (GOSA ’76 and the executive secretary of Tetfund). Prof. Bogoro represented the GOSA family, bringing glowing tributes on behalf of the president Prof. Rotgak Gofwen. Also travelling to represent the first set of BSS (i.e., GOSA ’55), was Dr. Ayo Abifarin a renown plant geneticist, who is only one of three surviving members from the set. He spoke heartily about the character, integrity and values of late Mr. Wilmshurst, extolling his foresight and discipline.

On behalf of the COCIN family, Reverend Kefas Tang’an of COCIN London, eulogized the late principal as a true pioneer, a pace-setter and an obedient servant of the Great Commission. He brought hearty condolences from the COCIN general secretary and the COCIN family – saying the late Mr. Wilmshurst and other COCIN missionaries’ legacy and impact will transcend generations.


Sitting from left to right are – Mr. Eric Peters, Mr. Geoffrey Dearsley (second principal of BSS Gindiri i.e., from 1956), Mrs. Dearsley, Mr. Maurice Cottom (third principal of BSS Gindiri), Jean Dean and John Dean. Standing in middle row from left to right are: missionary, Jenny Sweatman, Jean Chilver, Barbara Colin Smith, Mrs Helen Munday Standing in back row from left to right are: Mr. Wapshak Nastu, Colin Smith, Dr. Ayo David Abifarin, Rev. Alan Chilver, Andrew Wilmshurst and his wife and Prof. Suleman Bogoro (Gosa 76), Rev. Kefas Tang’an (GOSA 82).
Andrew Wilmshurst (Eldest son of Owen David Wilmshurst)

Pastor of Purley Baptist Church – Rev. James Collins

Rev. Kefas Tang’an Eulogizing the late Owen David Wilmshurst

Dr. Ayo David Abifarin (One of the 3 surviving members of the first GOSA set of 1955)

Cross-section of grand children, friends and church members, with Steve and Andrew Wilmshurst inset
The pianist at the service. He played one of Owen David Wilmshurt’s favourites songs which he learnt as a boy and subsequently taught to his students at BSS “When we walk with the lord, in the light of his word”


Cross section of family, friends and well wishers. With Steve Wilmshurst, Rev. Kefas Tang’an and Prof. Suleman Bogoro inset
Cross-section of the church congregation
Geoffrey Dearsley (the second principal of BSS Gindiri i.e., from 1956) and Rev. Alan Chilver in discussion. With Collin Smith inset
Geoffrey Dearsley (the second principal of BSS Gindiri) and his wife
Mr Maurice Cottom (the third principal of BSS Gindiri and another missionary from GHS Gindiri)
First and second daughters of late Owen David Wilmshurst (Jessica and Elizabeth) with Dr. Gwangtim Poyi

Dr. Ayo David Abifarin, Mr. Moses Kallamu, Prof. Suleman Bogoro, Mr. Wapshak Nastu, Dr. Gwangtim Poyi and Mr. George Longjan

SOURCE: Viewpoint Nigeria


3 Thoughts to “Tributes and eulogies at the thanksgiving service of BSS Gindiri’s pioneer principal”

  1. Hon. Moses Akuha Tor Gbande

    It is really praiseworthy and nostalgic as we thank God Almighty in seeing the photographs of our former Principals,our teachers and other missionaries. The Lord is really faithful in keeping all of us alive. May God continue to bless and keep those who are alive while we shall meet those who have died on the last day. Amen.
    Hon. Moses AT Gbande [Moses G]
    GOSA 65/67
    Former National President.

  2. Steve Wilmshurst

    Thank you so much for this tribute and the wonderful pictures. We were honoured by the presence of friends from Nigeria and have been comforted by the prayers and thoughts of so many of the Gindiri family!

  3. Andrew Wilmshurst

    A wonderful time of memories and thanksgiving for a much-loved father and friend. Thank you GOSA for your magnificent contributions!

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