The College is saddened to hear of the death of Mally Yates at the age of 92. Mally was one of the most influential people in the history of St John’s.
With the admission of female theology students to Cranmer Hall in 1966, Mally was appointed as a new member of staff to care for the new students in what had been an all male environment. Mally had studied Maths at Oxford University and after some teaching had worked for Scripture Union. Her first sermon in the College chapel was on the theme of Christian Joy, which was a characteristic of her life and ministry. At St John's she met and subsequently married Tim who was a tutor and then Warden of Cranmer Hall. They were married in the Christmas vacation 1968, a marriage which lasted 47 years until Tim’s death. Their children Catherine and Mark were both born while in Durham and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time.
Mally was a courageous pioneer in theological education who brought change through grace, laughter and passionate faith in Jesus. She had a profound influence on many significant people in the history of St John’s.
Former Principal Ruth Etchells wrote of Mally, 'my earliest guide in Christ, and dear fellow pilgrim through the decades... who first - some fifty years ago - drew me into the wonder, power and comfort, of personal prayer'.
The current Principal David Wilkinson comments:
"I owe both Mally and Tim a huge amount. They shaped so many of the good things that we enjoy in St John’s today – its gracious evangelicalism, opportunities for women, taking risks, prayerfulness and valuing each person. They were so good to me as Principal in their support, encouragement and being sources of advice and wisdom. I remember especially Mally’s sense of fun in a twinkle in her eye and the sense of the presence of God in a fully authentic human being. As we celebrate this weekend, the 50th anniversary of female undergraduates being admitted to St John's we will remember Mally particularly as a pioneer and trailblazer who opened the door for generations of women."
There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for Mally on Friday 21st July at St Helen's Church, Darley Dale at 2pm.