When I was twelve years of age and living in Port Talbot, south Wales, one of my close friends was Elizabeth, (née Jones) Dumayne, fondly known as Lib. She had been invited to be a bridesmaid at a wedding and asked me if I would accompany her to the house of a dressmaker/seamstress who lived in Oakwood Street, located right next to James Street where I lived at that time. That seamstress was Beryl Morgan, whom I met for the first time. I can still vividly remember the beautiful green bridesmaid dress that she had made. Beryl was a skilled seamstress and in great demand. She never needed a pattern and could create any made-to-measure garment from a description or photo, plus taking the measurements of the person for whom it was to be made. After that I occasionally saw her in town and knew that she attended Margam Road Presbyterian Church.
It was when I was 17 years of age that I, together with friends Hywel Jones and Len Gibbs, obtained permission to use a little, unused hut located near Port Talbot Railway Station and Post Office in Station Road, Port Talbot. We were keen Christians and needed a place where we could hold youth meetings to which we could invite friends from school as well as out of school friends. Hywel invited a number of young people from his church, including Beryl Morgan and that is how I came to know my future sister in law well.
We had wonderful times at those meetings singing lively choruses and hymns and it was at that time that Len and Hywel had the opportunity to start their preaching careers, particularly at our Saturday night evangelistic meetings.
My brother Calvin was an officer in the Merchant Navy but when he came home on leave, he also attended those meetings in the hut and that is where he met Beryl. Very soon they started going out together and it was love at first sight. Incidentally, years later their son Huw followed his father’s example by falling in love at first sight with his future wife Pam. A week or so later, they (Huw and Pam) announced their engagement and six months later they were married in Prairie Chapel, where Martin was the pastor.
However, Calvin and Beryl were not able to get married as quickly because Calvin had to complete the obligations of his contract with his marine employers which meant being away at sea for considerable lengths of time.
Calvin and Beryl had a wonderful relationship and a lot in common; first and foremost
was their deep personal relationship with the Lord which never wavered and became stronger every day. They shared the same passion for classical music and were extremely knowledgeable. When they first met Calvin loved symphonies and concertos composed by the Great Masters. Beryl loved choral works such as oratorios but both grew to appreciate all genres of music. They did of course love hymns, worship songs and Gather style music.
They were totally non-confrontational and used to say that they had never had an
argument, which is almost impossible to believe but their children have confirmed that this was so. Beryl used to laugh so easily and had a unique sense of humour; she was quick witted and always seemed to make humorous retorts (a talent that she passed on to her two children, Kay and Huw) and I really enjoyed the repartee. It was a joy to be in her company. Beryl talked freely about the Lord and was a vibrant and joyful Christian. Since living next door to us, I have spent many hours in her lovely apartment in Huw and Pam’s home just talking about the Lord and sharing His blessings with each other. She was a good conversationalist, never criticized others and generally was cheerful and positive. Calvin and Beryl were both gentle, unassuming, humble and self-effacing but for those of us who knew them, they were invaluable. Both in the UK and in Canada they enjoyed a gentle ministry of hospitality, counselling and helping the needy. In Abbotsford, they were involved in helping and supporting unmarried mothers. When they were part of the Vineyard Fellowship in Langley, the congregation consisted mainly of younger people. Calvin and Beryl were certainly older than the majority of the members of the congregation so were like Mam and Dad to many. They were both extremely generous and did not expect anything in return.
Sadly my brother Calvin died in 1997 at home where Beryl had cared for him supported by her family. Calvin’s premature death was a devastating blow to us all but Beryl was a shining example of serenity as she embraced the grace of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time. They were soul mates for sure but Calvin and they enjoyed 40 happy years together and were a testimony to all.
Beryl was blessed to be surrounded by her two children Kay and Huw, their spouses and her grandchildren. At the time of Calvin’s death they were living in an apartment in the ground level basement of Huw and Pam’s house. A short time later, they sold that house and purchased the house right next door to us. The same arrangement was possible for Beryl but now, we had the blessing of having them all living next door. Huw and Pam and their two children Meghan and Evan were a great support and encouragement to her. Kay, Tony and their children Siobhain and Daniel visited her regularly and Kay took over the responsibility of family reunions such as Christmas. Both her children and grandchildren brought her much joy. She told me how comforting it was to hear the sound of their voices and their footsteps as they walked upstairs. I would like say how I appreciate Pam who was willing to share their house with her in-laws and she was a constant support to Beryl. I find Pam laid back but very loving and caring and she didn’t hesitate in welcoming her in-laws to live in their apartment. Beryl was equally grateful for Kay and Huw and very proud of them both.
When Beryl was in her late 80s, it was obvious that she needed full time care. She quite suddenly lost the use of her legs and she was no longer able to take care of herself. Huw and Pam had full time jobs and Beryl couldn’t be left alone. Beryl understood her dilemma and broached the subject with Huw that the time had come for her to move into an extended care home. By doing this, she lovingly and mercifully removed the need for Huw to raise the matter with her, something he was very reluctant to do. The Lord moved marvelously and Beryl was offered a place in a local care home where she would be loved and cared for by a truly wonderful staff.
The initial wrench was painful but Beryl settled in and we were told that she had more visitors by far than anyone else in the facility and there were many occasions when visiting Beryl that we would find one of the nurses sitting chatting with her. A week after arriving in The Cottage, she had her 90th birthday and on January 10th, 2017, she had her 93rd birthday.
During the past year at the Cottage we saw deterioration in her health. She became very deaf and her eyesight also deteriorated. She could no longer read even large print books in addition to suffering other physical problems. However, whenever we visited her, she loved Martin reading familiar passages from the bible to her and even if she were sometimes confused, once Martin started reading, she would become lucid and alert and would recite the passage with him. Similarly whenever we prayed with her she was no silent observer but punctuated Martin’s prayer with “Yes Lord”, “Thank you Lord,” and multiple “amens.” Even as her body and mind became weaker, it was such a treat to see that her spirit was intact and very much alive. We often sang hymns to her and she would immediately sing quite loudly. Our friend Naj suggested that I sang some Welsh hymns to Beryl which she sang heartily and still remembered the Welsh words.
My late brother’s wife, our darling sister in law and one of our spiritual mentors, entered into the awesome presence of the Lord Jesus on February 9th 2017. She loved and served Him until He called her home to the place that He had prepared for her. Huw and Kay, Beryl and Calvin’s wonderful children, and their supportive spouses Pam and Tony were present. She had been sleeping all that day until 11.38 pm, when she opened her big beautiful blue eyes and then breathed her last breath. We went to see her in the afternoon of the day that she died. As she was sleeping peacefully, we told her that we loved her and thanked her for being such an important and precious member of our family.
She is now enjoying what Jesus promised, the details of which are recorded in John 14:1-3
“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also.”
Grace (Franklin) Gouldthorpe
February 17th 2017
Important note: Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to write a comment, particularly if you knew Beryl personally and have memories to share.