It is with great sadness, but profound respect and admiration that the Deaf community and wider Church says farewell to Ian Stillman. There will be an open Thanksgiving/Memorial service for Ian's life and work on Saturday October 15th , 2pm at Carey Baptist Church, Reading. This was the Church which suported him in his missson work in India but that he refused to go to as a teenager! Everyone is welcome , there were so many different facets to Ian's life!Ian Stillman worked with the deaf in India for 27 years. He himself is totally deaf, and also an amputee. Ian was jailed in North India in August 2000 after police said they found drugs in the taxi he was travelling in. Ian denied all knowledge of the drugs. For months he was held in cramped, insanitary conditions without medical care. He reported that people slept shoulder to shoulder and were treated worse than animals. In January of 2002 the High Court in Himachal Pradesh decided that Ian is not deaf and so rejected his appeal. On 6 May the Supreme Court refused Ian leave to appeal.But his family refused to believe that he was guilty and after a long campaign, which attracted world-wide support, and the intervention of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair , Ian was let out of prison on the 7th of December and he and his son Lennie arrived in Britain a week later.Ian was freed on compassionate grounds - but has not been granted a pardon. He stayed in Britain in order to receive the medical attention he needed.Ian's cremation service takes place on Sat June 25th 10am near Southampton with family members and Ali Mayor, Ian's carer over the last 7 years. Lenny has made the coffin, Jenny & Lenny drove Ian from Norwich to Hampshire in a van, Sue has sent her wedding sari over, Anita has chosen a Bible passage, Fiz will attempt to sign Amazing Grace and Ian's oldest friend Roger Mayor will be playing the music, so its a real shared project.
In July, Lenny and Alice will take Ian's ashes to India to be buried at Nambikkai (I think the Dugdale family is hoping to join them) so that Sue and Anita can be part of the goodbye, and to join the wider deaf community in their loss.
We showed the 1991 BBC film of Ians life and work, (it was great for all of us to be refreshed in memory ), had lots of tea and cake and heard lots of stories.