Martin Gillmore – a life remembered

Prayers have been said for Martin Gillmore, Bath and Wells Diocesan Chaplain among nomadic people, who died at the weekend. All who met Martin will have remembered him. He delighted in talking to anyone, anywhere, and sharing his love for Jesus with all those he met.

“Martin had a joyful enthusiasm and exuberance rooted in God’s amazing love. Unconventional and fearless, he was a brilliant evangelist – wherever he went he would share Jesus with people, bringing joy, hope and kingdom life to so many. He was full of life and full of Jesus,” said Revd Sally Buddle Martin’s mentor and friend.

Martin’s interest in, and care for those on the margins of society, began when he was a schoolboy. Each day he walked past a traveller site and always enjoyed stopping to talk with people who lived there, while others would walk past. Seeing those others chose not to, was something Martin did all his life. It led him to his chaplaincy post, and most recently he’d talked of his hopes for a church and community centre for Travellers and others in South Somerset.

Martin had a varied life, at one point working for the MOD, at another, spending time as a nightclub bouncer. Before the fall of the Communist Bloc, he joined a team of people who smuggled bibles into countries behind the ‘iron curtain’. It was a dangerous thing to do; in order to stay safe, he would pass the bibles on to contacts under the cover of darkness. Returning to Albania for the first time just three years ago and meeting some of the elders of the now flourishing Christian churches in Korce, Martin told them, ”This is the first time I’ve seen Albania in the daylight”.

It was that during that trip to Albania that Martin learnt about the trade in human trafficking and on his return began to lobby MP’s to do more to help those caught up in it. It was something he was involved with right up until his death.

Mike Haslam, Bath and Wells Chaplaincy Adviser, remembers Martin. “Had a great capacity to love which was rooted in the love of God. His Christian faith was as deep and wide as the ocean. It enabled him to meet everyone with love and welcome. He enriched the lives of thousands of people; within the church in Bath, in the Diocese, in Eastern Europe and beyond. He was especially there for the forgotten and marginalised and this was expressed through his chaplaincy to the traveller and nomadic communities, for whom he was a faithful friend and tireless advocate. He had a natural gift for sharing faith. Each time we met he told me of someone who he was in touch with who had just said ‘yes’ to God.”

Martin will be very sadly missed by the numerous people whose lives he touched, those he worked with, and the many, many friends he made.

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