INTERVIEW: The Buxton man caring for others and the planet

Charles Jolly
Charles Jolly

Lay preacher Charles Jolly has spent a lifetime looking after other people, and being concerned about the environment and the future of the planet.

The 74-year-old grandfather, of Darwin Avenue in Buxton, moved to the High Peak when he took early retirement after a career of teaching physics and maths and then looking after homeless people in the north east.

Charles Jolly

Charles Jolly

He said: “Children’s minds fascinate me with how quick they learn and pick up stuff.

“They start sixth form still as children but studying the subjects they like; by the end they leave as adults ready for the world.”

He was a teacher for 34 years and when he stepped away from that he helped to set up a facility for homeless people by the coast.

Charles said: “It was very different but still very rewarding and challenging.”

His faith is very important to Charles.

He was raised in a Christian household in Bromham, near Bedford, where his grandfather set up a Baptist Church which is still thriving today.

Shortly after moving to Buxton in 1998, Charles began a three-year course to become a lay preacher with the United Reformed Church and he and his wife of 46 years, Alison, sometimes take sermons together.

About six years ago Charles made a trip to Peru to help the street children abandoned by their parents.

“It really was an eye-opener,” he said.

“It reinforced the view that we need to help disadvantaged people and do what we can for others.”

Charles is a member of the local Amnesty International branch, High Peak Foodbank, and High Peak Night Stop providing emergency care for homeless people.

He is also a member of green-thinking group Transition Buxton.

He likes to spend his spare time in his allotment, and this year has grown “some splendid pumpkins”.

He said: “It is very beneficial for the body and mind to get back to nature and it provides great therapy.

“During growing season I was down there most days, but now it has eased off a bit.”

Buxton is a transition town

Charles is one of the founder members of Transition Buxton, which puts sustainable living at the forefront of its work.

He said: “I am proud to be a member of the group. I was involved with a movement like this in the 1970s and it ties in with my preaching; that we need to look after the earth and pass it on to our children.

“A triumph for me is everything the group has achieved with the community orchard near the Serpentine.

“It has grown so much it has been taken over by a separate group whose focus is just on running the farm.

“The orchard allows people to have access to fresh fruit for free and that is great, and it is something everyone has got behind.”

Charles said there are more projects in the pipeline for the group , but hopes he passes on his love of the environment and its importance to his grandchildren who he enjoys spending time with.