Kirk, Jim & Kath


Was fortunate to get this from Steve on Aunt Kath's 95th birthday (5th Jan, 2013)

(Click for a larger image)









Kathleen Mary Kirk (nee Ingle) By Stephen Kirk

 Born in Walsall on 5th January 1918. Passed away at home on 6th October aged 96.

Leaves behind husband Jim; sisters, Dot (here) and Rosaline (in Tasmania); Children Stephen & Gill, Rachel & Fred & Christine & Steve; grandchildren Daniel, Esther, Sarah, Hannah, Matthew, Kirsty, David; great grandchildren Lucas, Thea, Nathaniel; nieces & nephews, their children and many church friends, although she outlived most of her peers.

 Brother Wilf and Sister Dorothy.  Sister Rosaline was born ten years later:


“My sister Kath:

She wanted a baby sister and prayed hard for this and promised God that she would go to Africa and look after babies there when she grew up. She was about 10 years old when I was born - my father handed me over to her and said “here’s your baby.”

After she and Jim were married they went to Nigeria and I believe she kept her promise to look after the babies among many other things that she did.

 She was my big sister – kept me in order – I was rather a handful. She made almost all my clothes – money was scarce in those days - and generally tried to keep me in order.

 She had a wonderful imagination and made up stories to help pass the time on the rather long walk to our grandparents home - a chapter each week  and let me ride my tricycle from Caldmore to Pleck and back . Not quite sure how much I rode and how far she had to carry the trike!

 We didn’t always get on together – I sometimes thought she was too strict or bossy and I only discovered a few years ago that  she was the one who persuaded Mom not to let me have my hair cut – I had plaits which I hated as I was the only girl in the school who had long hair!

 I remember in the early days of plastics – she made a raincoat – a cream one – for herself.  We went to Midland Institute for a Rally it was raining when we came out and Kath very proudly put on the raincoat but it became so stiff she could hardly walk and had great difficulty in walking up the stairs in the bus.  Lots of laughter and lots of love.

 She taught me about Jesus and I will always love her for that.

 Kath was special and she is now with the Lord who she loved.”

 When mom was a little girl, her family went to Australia for her dad’s health. They lived in Toowoomba, inland from Brisbane. But there was little work and the family struggled.

They never really settled and with brother Wilf needing an operation they came back to Caldmore when she was 12.

Mom went to Queen Mary’s High School and wanted to continue her education and become a nurse but her dad died so she had to leave and get a job. She joined her sister Dot at Crabtree’s as a statistician.

 The family attended Caldmore Gospel Hall but then moved to the new church that was starting in Rushall. Her mother, Regina Ingle, started a Women’s Meeting (which continues to this day) and mom taught the little Sunday School children.  Shirley Lovatt remembers Mom teaching her in Sunday School.  Mom said there would be a prize for those who behaved.  Shirley sat up straight and was rewarded with a card shield with a verse on it.  She was very proud.

 Dad’s proposal was something like this when only the two of them turned up for a prayer meeting at the Gospel Hall – “You want to be a missionary don’t you? Why don’t we go together?” So they married in 1947. Then from ’48 to ’49 spent a year in London at the Missionary School of Medicine. She never could bear giving injections.

 Then they sailed into the unknown with very little luggage. They left Dover on 1st April 1950  on a Dutch ship bound for Lagos, Nigeria. (Passenger log) They lived Umuahia in the Igbo area. I was born not far from there in Port Harcourt in 1951.

 Back to England for a short break then sailed for Port Harcourt with a lot more luggage bound for Ika. Dad remembers the long drive in a lorry with me thirsty for a drink.

It was in Ika that mom raised the family. Home schooling for a while – mom teaching me Latin, French and other subjects by keeping just one step ahead. Learning the local Igala language. And the work that, more than anything else, defined who she was. Looking after abandoned or mal-nourished Nigerian babies. Dad recalls the rows of wooden crates used as cots and mom going from baby to baby with improvised equipment feeding each one. The patience she had coaxing them to drink just a few drops of milk. Then when they were healthy sending the back to mothers or adoptive parents with a supply of powdered milk.

 In 1955 Rachel was born in Enugu during this period at Ika. Dad said they brought her home in a shopping basket.  Rachel remembers the tiny premature babies mom carried round tied to her skin to keep them warm.  She fed them every 2 hours with an eye dropper. Looking back, we never had much but we always had enough. We never went without a meal – sometimes there was no food in the cupboard but just in time someone would turn up with a gift of some eggs or a chicken. Through all of it we don’t remember mom worrying or getting angry.  She went about the house always singing hymns and choruses.

 Another return trip to England in 1958 and Christine was born just down the Lichfield Road.

Then back to Nigeria for another five years. Working with other missionaries from UK and USA who were part of a very dear family to us all.


Comments from some: 

Irene Dixon, She was a lovely friend and sister and I particularly remember how she looked after many premature babies in Nigeria until the relatives could take over.  And she taught them how to look after the babies safely.” 

Lois Wheeler “Your mother was one of the sweetest, most caring ladies I have known. I feel your loss but can't help but rejoice for her as she is free from sickness and stress and in the presence of her Lord whom she served so faithfully. What a great reunion there must have been with my Dad and Mom, Aunt Gwen, Aunt Vi, Aruna, Achetu and so many, many more !!” 

Sue Crowe Your mum was a most fun person in my growing up years!  I'm sure my love of books is partly because she showed such enthusiasm for reading, and it didn't seem to matter if it was a kid's book or one for adults.  She always seemed to have time for us children and  interacted with us joyfully! If I remember correctly, she and my parents were the only adults that would let us build our own fires to cook yam for snacks!” 

Louis & Joyce Clifton  “Jim and Kath were a great tower of strength to us, and to many others, at Ika - we remember them there with thankfulness to the Lord.” 

Eustace & Joan ApplegateOur thoughts and prayers are with you all as a family. Please send our condolences to Dad. Many memories of them both in our years at Ika and the few times we were able to visit them.” 

Don & Ruth Mason  “So sorry to hear about your mother’s passing into that best of all places, the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.

Mike & Janet Stafford were particularly close. Janet is in Malawi but Mike joined us and shared a few words.


March 13 1964 and the family returned to England and eventually settled in Borneo Street, first at 31 then at 62.  Mom became involved in the work of this chapel. Taking over from her mom the leading of the Women’s Meeting. She was also in great demand as a speaker, traveling by bus to Women’s meetings all over South Staffordshire and the West Midlands.  

Chris remembers, “During her time in Nigeria and also back in the UK she was always involved in work with children and young people. She organised many camps, enthusiastically helping with cooking, teaching and fun activities. Over the years she taught countless women and young people to sew. She continued to teach in Sunday school well into her nineties. She always enjoyed providing interesting craft ideas to illustrate her stories. David fondly remembers the fun craft projects Grandma came up with during school holidays. She loved playing board games, Coppit was a family favourite which lasted through the generations.

I remember one of her SS lessons in Nigeria when I was little and one of three or four children in her class. The trouble she went to with her visual aids for the story of the wise & foolish builders.

Probably, as difficult a time as any for mom was after the Biafra war ended in 1970 when dad answered an emergency call to go back to Nigeria leaving mom in England and going back & forth for a few years. The only time they were apart for any length of time in 66 years of marriage. In 1976 both then went back to Nigeria for a time. 

Rachel says, “There was very little money when Dad was away.  I remember when I needed a mac to go on a school field trip, Mom had only £5.00 pounds to spare. She searched the market and shops for material and patterns and ready-made macs and they were all more than £5.00.  I was desperate as I didn’t think I would be allowed to go without a mac.  We had prayed and Mom said God would provide for me.  I came home from school on the last day before we went, certain I would not be able to go.  Mom had gone back to the market and found my mac, exactly £5.00 pounds in the exact colour I dreamed of.  It was the first brand new bought item of clothing I had ever had.  She never doubted that God would provide, it was a massive lesson of faith for me.  I remember she never complained. However bad the situation was, she always found something good to say about things. She was always smiling and laughing.” 

For the last thirty years mom continued to be active in this chapel in the Sunday School and women’s meetings. She also had time for her seven grandchildren. Rachel remembers laughing till we cried in a holiday gift shop over a book called “The wrinklies” which was funny things about old age. Mom said she was certainly a wrinkly.  Fred walked out of the shop as we were so out of control. 

One of our children’s favorite memories was of the Saturday routine of going to grandma’s for chips after swimming. Matt says the biggest thing he remembers about Grandma was her witty sense of humour. She was also blessed to see three great-grandchildren; as ever, loving to hold the little babies. 

Three years ago mom fell breaking a leg. They were unable to operate and she has been bed-ridden ever since. Even with her infirmity and old age she kept her Bible with her and loved friends and family to sit with her and sing her favorite hymns.

Chris says, “Her final 3 years were difficult but a very precious time, it was as if we were given “Extra Time”. Because she was so dependent on those around her we were able to be with her more and more on a daily basis. It was true she lost some of her memories and at times we saw changes in her personality but the spirit of who she was remained and shone through to all who met her. Sometimes she would say “I can’t remember who you are but I know I love you”. We treasured moments like these. We were blessed with some amazing carers who came in to help each day; we are grateful to them as they treated her with such patience and understanding and lovingly made her comfortable.”

Even at the end when she was suffering from dementia she was constantly trying to arrange women’s meetings and Sunday Schools in her room. She passed away peacefully at home with her family around her.

 A defining moment……. (a particular baby she loved and who passed away in her arms)