The Revd Neville Mellor remembered

By Drew Mellor and family

Neville Mellor was born on 24 November 1932 in Dapto, a small town near Wollongong on the NSW South Coast. He was the fourth child born to Samuel and Eleanor Mellor, who had migrated to Sydney from Durham, England, in 1923 on an assisted passage for returned soldiers.

In Neville’s first year of primary school, he was very unwell with bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough and when finally diagnosed with diptheria was in the isolation ward at Wollongong Hospital for six weeks. He had many months away from school recovering. Neville’s family did not have a car and the kids walked uphill the five kilometres to school each day. When Neville was 10, he was given a scooter and later a bike, and after becoming aware that each morning a truck would go past on its way to the coal mine, he would hitch a ride by holding onto a bar on the back of the truck and got a tow up the hills to school. He would ride his scooter home down the steep winding bends, reaching 20 miles per hour – we have no idea how a serious accident never occurred.

After completing Year 9 and gaining his Intermediate Certificate, Neville commenced his carpentry apprenticeship on 24 January 1949. He was 16. This same day was also Neville’s best mate's birthday, so he asked him where he would like to go that night to celebrate. His friend (also named Neville) replied: “I would like to go to St Mark’s Youth Fellowship in West Wollongong as I have my eye on a blonde girl.” Neville Mellor had never been to church before nor had he ever read the Bible and this was a very foreign concept. But as a loyal friend he went with him.

This led to Neville making new friends and attending the Monday fellowship nights, and to going to church on a Sunday. In June 1949, Neville committed his life to Christ and became a Christian. This decision totally changed the direction of his life.

The two Nevilles became very involved in leading and running CEBS (a Christian Club for boys), Sunday School, Fellowship nights, bonfire nights and other social activities for St Mark’s. From about June 1951, Neville’s mum and dad started going to church with Neville on some Sunday nights.

Sadly, on 21 October 1951, while Neville’s dad was assisting in finishing building their family home, he collapsed and died from a stroke. Samuel Mellor was only 57. Neville, aged 19, continued with the completion of the building of their family home and he also assisted his mum financially as much as he could.

After completing his five-year carpentry apprenticeship, Neville decided to have a change and began working at Sorby’s Wholesale Hardware in Wollongong as a sales assistant at the beginning of 1954. Even though Neville did not continue on in the building business, his carpentry skills were put to use many times in his future years – completing renovations at Bible College buildings, building new homes, extensions and holiday houses and assisting with building new churches. Later that year, a new secretary commenced at his workplace – Nancy Richardson, who was 19. Their romance commenced and they were engaged on New Year’s Eve 1955.

During this time, Neville felt a strong calling from the Lord into full-time service for Him. Within a few days, he received an invitation to become the Transport Officer for the Church of England Children’s Homes in Carlingford Sydney – he accepted and commenced this work in June 1955. As well as transporting the children, he also ran a short devotion and prayer each morning with the boys before leaving for school. He only had every third weekend off when he would return to the South Coast to visit Nancy and his family.

In February 1956, Neville commenced two years of Bible College at the Sydney Bible Training Institute in Strathfield in Sydney and Nancy began her two-year nursing and midwifery course to prepare them for future Christian work anywhere in Australia or overseas. After graduation, Neville and Nancy were married 29 March 1958 in Woonona and they moved into a one-bedroom flat in Strathfield. This is when Neville commenced as Assistant Minister at St George’s Hurstville and it was during this time that Neville built their first home on the church graveyard in Hurstville – it was built so it could be transported when they were to buy land later in their marriage. Quite ingenious really! His brother Gordon and brother-in-law Ken completed all of the electrical work, which was a huge financial help.

Janine Ruth was born in 1959 and Andrew Samuel (known as Drew) was born in 1960 – 15 months later. In 1961, Neville and Nancy joined BCA as Hostel Parents in Mungindi, where they were responsible for 18 children in the Children’s Hostel, between the ages of six and 14, with no other helpers. They had to cook all meals, prepare school lunches, washing, ironing, devotions and help with homework. And this was in the dusty outback in scorching heat, with two small children of their own -- and it was also quite isolating for them. Philip Alexander, their third child, was born during this time in 1962. They then took on their next challenge in running the BCA Children’s Hostel in Broken Hill where they were responsible for 24 boys between six and 16.

In 1964, Neville left BCA and commenced service with Bible Society, first in NSW as State Youth Director until 1971 and then in Tasmania as Southern Tasmania Secretary from 1971-75. It was in Tasmania in 1971 that their youngest child was born; Judith Nancy, known as Jude.

In 1975, Neville accepted a call to serve as Federal Executive Secretary of United Aborigines Mission and he and Nancy and family moved from Hobart to Melbourne where the Federal office was. It was here in Melbourne that their children grew into adulthood and Neville was never to return to live in his beloved South Coast of NSW, although he made many visits. They lived first in Reservoir and then moved to East Doncaster, where they joined Holy Trinity Doncaster in 1977; this began a long association with Holy Trinity which continues to this day; their son Drew, as an ordination candidate, completed his first student placement at Holy Trinity, and he and his wife Maz were commissioned and sent from Holy Trinity, as short-term workers with BCA, to Tarcoola Hospital in 1983-84.

Toward the end of 1985, Neville resigned from UAM, and commenced discussions with then Archbishop of Melbourne, David Penman, about ordination and parish ministry again. In 1986, Neville was ordained deacon by Archbishop Penman and commissioned as Minister-in-Charge at St Timothy's Bulleen, where in August 1986, Neville was ordained Priest and appointed Priest-in-Charge. Neville served at St Timothy's until 1990, when he accepted a call to serve as Southern Field Officer for South American Missionary Society (SAMS). In 1993, Neville was appointed Priest-in-Charge of Anglican Church in Craigieburn and in 1995 was appointed Incumbent at Craigieburn, serving there until retirement in 1996.

Upon retirement, Neville and Nancy moved into their home in East Doncaster where they recommenced attending Holy Trinity Doncaster. In retirement Neville was actively involved in locum service throughout the diocese over the ensuing 20 years. Soon after retirement, Nancy rang Drew and asked if he had a job for Neville at Deep Creek. Drew responded positively but added: “I have a significant pastoral ministry that Dad could be overseeing but I can't pay him, though, as we do not have the funds.” Nancy responded: “I don’t need you to pay him, I just need you to get him out of the house – he is moving all the furniture around, starting building projects that is creating a mess and even rearranging the kitchen cupboards.” His subsequent lengthy commission as honorary Associate Priest alongside his son Drew at St Philip's Deep Creek from 1996 till 2002 was a significant time for both Neville and Drew. On one occasion, they were conducting a funeral at Deep Creek and the funeral director turned to Neville and said: “So what’s it like having your son work for you?” Without missing a beat, Neville responded: “I wouldn’t know, Drew’s the Senior Minister, I work for him.”

While serving at Deep Creek, Neville took on the role of Project Manager of the new St Philip’s Education and Ministry Centre, enabling the parishioners to effectively “owner build” the new facility over a period of six months and save many hundreds of thousands of dollars by using volunteer labour to supplement the work of skilled trades-people, all of which was managed and supervised jointly by the appointed Architect and Neville as Project Manager. In recent years, Neville served in an honorary capacity at Holy Trinity Doncaster while he undertook some short-term locum appointments, until his failing health necessitated winding back his active service.

Sadly, their eldest daughter, Janine, passed away in 2005, aged 46, from cancer and is deeply missed. Neville always looked forward to a reunion in Glory.

Neville was very proud of his family – with three children, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and another due the week after his funeral. He was significantly disappointed this year when the monthly extended family dinners at Drew and Maz’s place had to cease due to COVID-19 restrictions. There was significant sadness within our family, therefore, that most of the family was not able to visit "Grandpa" in his final days, nor physically attend the Service of Thanksgiving for his life. Neville delighted in the achievements of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, loved getting to know their partners and their friends and enjoyed spending quality time with each of them. As to his wider ministry, Neville was still providing pastoral visits to those in need until last year, at age 86, when his health made this too difficult to continue.

Neville had been hospitalised in recent weeks and was expected to be discharged the following week, when he passed away suddenly but peacefully after experiencing a major stroke on Sunday 20 September 2020, while holding Nancy’s hand. Less than three hours earlier, Neville was talking with Nancy on the phone from his hospital bed and they ended the call to go and watch Songs of Praise. He was 87 years old.

Neville was a faithful man, always willing to help others and to share the Hope that he had in his Saviour. In his journal in 2011, he wrote: “I wonder if I will ever finish this part of my story before my Lord and Saviour takes me to be with Him in The Glories of Heaven? What a wonderful day that will be!”

As a family, we are grieving his passing while celebrating his life. We are enormously thankful to the Vicar of Holy Trinity Doncaster, Andrew Price, and the people of HTD for their care and support for Nancy and Neville over this past year in particular; thank you for your many visits, phone calls, meals and prayerful encouragement.

"I have contested the good contest, I have run the race, I have kept the faith…"

(part of 2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Drew, Phil and Jude – on behalf of Nancy Mellor and in celebration of the Life of Neville Mellor – Husband, dad, grandpa and importantly, disciple of Jesus.