By Spy Uganda Correspondent
A missionary from Blackburn, England who was expelled from Uganda by the brutal dictator Idi Amin has died at the age of 94.
Father Frederick Heptonstall, died at Southport Hospice on Merseyside after living a life dedicated to the church.
After his schooling in Blackburn, he joined Mill Hill Missionaries – attending St Peter’s College in Liverpool, before then heading to Roosendaal in the Netherlands to study philosophy, then studying for a priesthood in London.
In 1952 he took the perpetual oath to God in the society and a year later was ordained a priest, and immediately after he received his first missionary appointment in the Diocese of Tororo in Uganda, Africa.
He spent 23 years in the diocese, with the society said was filled with “great joy and enthusiasm”, but the final four years were marred by the seizing of power by dictator Idi Amin.
Fred was forced to flee Uganda under the cover of darkness, being unceremoniously deported from the country – making headlines in the Lancashire at the time – and the society said this left Fred “heartbroken”.
After leaving Uganda, he continued his work in nearby Kenya, and it was while there he clocked up 50 years of service as a missionary.
When he hit his golden anniversary in the society, the Mill Hill Missionaries General Council said: “Your achievements in Ahero and Awasi Parishes are legend.
“Your enormous kindness to the people and your great efforts to address their different needs through various projects ensure you will be remembered for many years to come.”
After 27 years in Kenya, in 2002 Fred came back home to Blackburn, where he was a minister for the housebound and sick based in Larkhill, and looked after the Legion of Mary and local branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society.
He eventually retired in 2013, living at Herbert House in Liverpool where he was said to have “made a valuable contribution to community life by his humility, good sense of humour, his gentleness and his kind-hearted personality”