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Friday, 9 June 2017

Bill's Story

We are indebted to another remarkable story of friendship.

FoCH Chair, Jo, almost deleted the email thinking it was junk!  What a mistake that would have been! It was the offer of another very substantial donation, from Mr. Bill Twigger, American penfriend of Jo's father, Dr. Hamilton Currie, who was doctor at Chitambo during the 1960s and 70s.

More correctly, the offer was from Bill's daughter, Nancy, a community pharmacist in Arizona, USA. Sadly, Bill passed away in January 2017, aged 97.  Please see his obituary here: Click here


Mr. Bill Twigger

Bill, wife June and daughter Nancy


Bill, a former Customs Broker in Pennsylvania, USA,  had contacted Jo and her sisters some years ago, via Facebook.  Again, they were a bit suspicious but soon realised the contact was entirely genuine!  Here are some extracts from Bill's letter to them titled, My Story:

"Dear (Girls),
Where shall I begin?  To say "I was born" would risk plagiarizing the great Charles Dickens.  Yet, born I was, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 25, 1920 into a family poor in the exchequer but rich in the stuff of life.  About the time of any measurable accountability, we three children (myself and my two younger sisters, Mabel and Jane), along with our dear mother, managed to survive the Great Depression.  We grew up with little of this world's goods, but managed to keep body and soul together. 
 
In 1936 (my senior year of high school) my English literature teacher asked me if I would be interested in engaging in correspondence with a Scottish school student my age.  The novelty appealed to me instantly.  She gave me the name and address of one HAMILTON CURRIE.  As academic -- and other "growing-up" -- responsibilities allowed, we engaged a healthy exchange of letters and photographs which resulted in the establishment of a friendship which rivals any I developed with people with whom I had daily eyeball-to-eyeball contact........

I'll bring this epistle to a close by telling you that, in the not-too-distant future, you will receive an envelope containing some photographs and other trappings from my years of correspondence with your very special father and my dear friend.  With intentional irreverence, I now hereby declare that Hamilton Currie will be among the first "people" I'll be seeking on that blessed day when my Lord and Master calls me home to Glory.  Cordially yours,  
Bill Twigger"

The envelope duly arrived, to Jo's delight.   Sadly, the sisters later lost touch with Bill.  However, he did not forgotten them.  The reason his daughter, Nancy, contacted Jo was to say that her Dad had left a note specifying a wish to make a large donation to Friends of Chitambo, in memory of his penpal:

"Because I have wanted (ever since his untimely death) to make a substantial gift to the African (Zambian) enterprise which my pen-pal Milton Currie directed for 25 years, I want you to send a bank draft in the amount of 5000 Pounds Sterling (about $3700) to Jo Vallis.  Ask her to arrange the purchase of some piece of equipment which the hospital at Chitambo is in need of."   

Nancy Twigger agreed that much needed emergency radios would meet Bill's equipment wish and matched her father's very generous donation with one of her own. This was enough to buy 2 Motorola Very High Frequency (VHF) Digital Radios for Chitambo District.  These will make a vast difference in an area where distances and lack of communications cost lives, especially of women in childbirth.

  What a Godsend!

A heartfelt thanks to the Twiggers.  A  kinder family you could not find anywhere on this earth.

Twatotela saana mukwai (THANK YOU in ChiBemba, the language of Chitambo District)






Thanks to a powerful friendship

Agnes (pictured)  and Janet Knox, our Honorary President, were best friends. The 2 had been inseparable since school days and were famously known to say that they had 'never exchanged a cross word'. 

It must have been a real blow then, to Agnes, when Janet sadly passed away in March 2017.  If so, Agnes has presented a brave front, 'manning' the teapot at the post-funeral gathering and serving all Janet's friends and family with 'the cup that cheers'.

Her kindness certainly did not stop there and, at the funeral, she indicated that she wished to make a substantial donation to Friends of Chitambo, in Janet's memory.

Agnes, Janet's best friend
She said that she would do this at a later date and, true to her word, she telephoned FoCH Chair, Jo Vallis, requesting information about how to do so.  It was agreed that Jo would pop over to Agnes's home to pick up the check.  Jo enjoyed chatting with Agnes and hearing more about the background to the 'girls'' friendship.  She left with a substantial check to be put towards the Janet Knox Nurse Training Scholarship at Chitambo.

Agnes, we can't thank you enough.  Your generosity and kindness is overwhelming and will make a very big difference to struggling student nurses at Chitambo.  Your dear friend's memory lives on though you.