Marking 60 years of ‘Marvellous’ friendship with Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin
A special service led by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was held last weekend to commemorate 60 years of friendship between Keele University and Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin.
Held in Keele’s campus chapel, the service gave thanks to Neil for his contributions to life at Keele for the past six decades, providing a welcoming presence to new students at Keele since he first arrived in the 1960s.
Senior bishops from across the UK were invited to address the congregation, reflecting the huge importance of Neil’s faith in his life, with Rowan Williams delivering a sermon praising his outlook on life, and his role in making new students feel welcome at Keele.
Dr Williams said: “We are not just here to celebrate 60 years of Neil Baldwin, we are here to celebrate 60 years – and a lot more – of God in Neil Baldwin. We are here to acknowledge that God has spoken, and has given light and life, in this particular life.
“We are here to thank God that he has spoken, to contact people not quite knowing what is going on, or who this is, but saying here is a word of hope, of welcome, of love, and affirmation coming through this human face.
“Neil, part of your calling was that very simple and profound sense that people stepping into new experiences simply need to know that they are welcome. We are thanking God for who you are and what you have done.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Trevor McMillan also presented Neil with a special commendation to mark the occasion, saying: “We are all here because Neil has come into our lives in different ways, and we are better for it. Since his first visit at the age of 14, he has been a part of Keele. He has been a positive influence on many students’ lives, and it’s a testament to the respect and friendship that he has showed, that all of you have come here today.”
Addressing the service, Neil himself said: “Who would have known 62 years ago that I would still be at Keele today. This university has been wonderful to me. I have seen four Chancellors, seven Vice-Chancellors and millions of students.
“Thank you to all of the students who played in my football team, thank you to the Chapel staff, and thank you to all of the people I have befriended at Keele, everyone over the past 62 years.”