Author described as cultural gem is celebrated
Several dozen people crowded into a Martham bungalow to help launch a book about a 19th century village heroine, buried alongside the chancel in the local parish church.
Ann Meakin has written about the life of pioneer missionary Anna Hinderer, who left the tranquillity of Victorian life in East Anglia to travel and work in Abadan, West Africa.
The launch of the book at Ann’s home was attended by her village history group friends, principal guests Cllr Barry Coleman and publisher Michael Blackwell as well as friends, neighbours and well-wishers, drawn especially from Martham Parish Church and other parishes around.
Ann’s book has been on sale since December, and on the special launch day a further 23 copies were signed.
Cllr Coleman spoke of Anna Hinderer’s remarkable early life and of her service as a missionary in Nigeria. He told of “her friendly personality which attracted people to her and was an enormous help in building long term confidences in an alien environment”.
He drew parallels with today’s international problems, referring to Anna’s accounts of “opening up her home to numerous abandoned children, reminiscent of Syria at present.”
He observed that without Ann Meakin’s work the people of Martham, never mind further afield would have no idea the village was the final resting place of such an inspiring lady.
Cllr Coleman praised Ann, saying: “Yes, we do celebrate the likes of Nelson, Dickens and Anna Sewell, but if you trace the route of our many blue plaques commemorating our local heroes you would see that we celebrate many ‘ordinary people’. That is what culture and heritage is all about; the glue that keeps our community together.”
He praised author Ann and said she was a “cultural gem working to highlight our local historical culture.”
Publisher Michael Blackwell spoke amusingly but supportively of Ann’s persistence in getting her book through to publication. Having first been told the publishing company was in hibernation, Ann phoned again six months later to enquire whether they had woken up.
The result is that some 250 copies of this sizeable paperback are now on sale in various locations, including Norwich Cathedral. Unfortunately, it may be too costly to get some to Liverpool Cathedral, where Anna Hinderer is honoured in a stained-glass window depicting 21 “Noble Women”. She is in good company; also with her is famous prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.
On the book launch day Ann’s final task for the day was to clear up and then write a cheque for £500 and send it to the Church Mission Society, with whom Anna Hinderer worked in Africa, and to whom the proceeds of book sales are being donated.