Colin and Judith Marchant

Judith and Colin Marchant came to Newham in 1965 when Colin was invited to be Baptist Minister at West Ham Central Mission (WHCM) - now Memorial Community Church. They arrived in the year East Ham and West Ham became Newham, and are happy to have lived in the borough ever since. They have three children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They are included together because their lives and work are so closely intertwined.

Concerned about social justice and members of the Christian Socialist Movement, they were instrumental in setting up and running a number of projects and organisations in the borough that have made a positive difference to many people’s lives. They both helped to set up Newham Education Concern in the late ‘60s – to campaign for better education when the borough’s schools were at the bottom of national league tables, which lead to Newham Bookshop.

Judith taught at Star primary school and also set up and ran a number of activities for children at Lawrence Hall and WHCM, then later volunteered in local schools. She played the piano in church and set up a children’s choir - she still enjoys singing and is a member of Newham Super Choir. She was Chair of Victim Support for a number of years and continues to support and befriend people locally. She established one of the first playgroups in the borough and the ‘Opportunity Group’ – Newham’s first inclusive playgroup. She went on to set up and run Children’s Centres at WHCM and Lawrence Hall, and Newham Family Centre, offering a range of services for local families.

Colin was minister at WHCM and then Plaistow Memorial Baptist Church until 1990. He was a founding member of the Newham Social Workers Group, which drew together professionals across Newham and the Newham Voluntary Agencies council. He worked with Aston Charities to set up Lawrence Hall Community Centre in Plaistow. He was the centre’s first residential warden from 1970 to 1987, setting up and managing a wide range of activities including a number of firsts for Newham: a sheltered housing complex, volunteer bureau, luncheon club and Christmas Open House. From 1987 to 1994, he became General Manager of Aston-Charities – adding the Community Involvement Unit and the Froud Centre. Colin has researched and written a series of papers, chapters and books about faith and the inner city, continuing this into his eighties.

Particularly interested in the diversity and changing face of faiths in Newham, he was a research fellow at the University of East London on ‘Faith flows in Newham’ project, making forty contributions to ‘The Newham Story’ website. He particularly enjoyed his involvement in the training of new church leaders and welcomed many of the new churches.

Colin and Judith came to Newham because of their faith; they stayed because they grew to love the diversity, challenges and constantly changing nature of the borough. They are still actively involved in their local community and they always know what’s going on.

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