On Leaving LIFE Trustees

On Thursday 12 October 2017, after prolonged consideration and some hesitation, I eventually decided to resign as a trustee from the Life charity.  The following includes my resignation email, something of my involvement in LIFE, the kind responses from my fellow trustees and that of the founder of LIFE, Jack Scarisbrick.

Dear All,


The time has come for me to resign as a trustee of LIFE, a position I have been pleased to occupy since 2009.


I have been involved with the charity since the early 1980s when hordes of evangelical Christians joined LIFE as a result of the 1979 Schaeffer and Koop film series and book entitled Whatever Happened to the Human Race?  At that time, Sid Garland and I started Evangelicals for LIFE to encourage these evangelicals to join LIFE and get involved in its threefold activities of caring, education and campaigning.  From 1984, I was a member of LIFE’s Central Committee as the Regional Representative for Wales – at that time it consisted of at least six Groups.  In addition, I and my wife were founding members, as chairman and secretary, of the Aberystwyth LIFE Group, one of the most successful of all Groups at that time – we were the first (and only?) Group to attain a membership of 1% of our local population.


However, there are now at least four good reasons for me, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to stand down:


1]  I have this month reached my landmark birthday of three-score-and-ten years.  And as everybody knows, people of this age are quite incapable of making sound judgements, so I have been compulsorily retired as a magistrate.  So why not as a LIFE trustee too?  After all, I have already been involved for half my lifetime.


2]  I note that the Charity Commissioners are now recommending that trustees serve for terms of no more than three years.  I have already completed many more than that.


3]  The function of LIFE trustees has fundamentally changed.  I used to enjoy the bioethical debate and the strategic planning aspects of our past meetings.  I have little interest, and certainly no expertise, in poring over budgets and interpreting financial spreadsheets.  Moreover, the prospect of serving on a sub-committee discussing health and safety, or whatever, does not appeal.


4]  I understand that there is now a coterie of new and younger trustees waiting in the wings.  It is therefore an appropriate time for this oldie to move over.


In other words, I judge that my time of usefulness and significant contribution to the charity has come to a fitting end.


However, I do expect to continue my involvement in the pro-life cause.  I am still being invited to speak at various meetings and conferences.  And I am still writing for several organisations, as well as my own website.  For example, attached is my piece on the dreadful 50th anniversary, Abortion – 50 Years of Shame.


Finally, I want to thank you all for your friendships and co-belligerence.  I wish you well in the future.  I shall still support LIFE and contribute financially to the charity.  It has been an organisation that has changed my life, mostly for the better.  I shall miss you.





Dear John,

I was not expecting to receive this email tonight. I must be honest, I find the news of your imminent resignation saddening; I can’t imagine anyone replacing you on the board. Nobody talks bioethics like John Ling. 


That said, thanks to your typically well written email, I understand the reasoning behind your decision and fully respect the choice you have made. 


Being reminded of your history with the prolife movement and especially the time you and your wife dedicated to your local Life groups reminds me of just what an honour it has been for me to know you. You have contributed so much not only to the board of trustees but to the charity as a whole. As I recall, you have even been a keynote speaker the Life conference. 


I know I do not speak only for myself when I say you will be sorely missed, John. As a trustee you always made valid contributions and never felt uncomfortable challenging things you didn’t agree with. (Including my foul language)


I genuinely hope you will keep in touch with us trustees and that we will continue to hear from you in the future. 


On behalf of the board I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for all you have done for Life Charity and I wish you every success in the future. 


God bless

Laura Higgins

Dear John

My goodness you are only 70, John McCain ran for the American Presidency at 72 and one of the finest American Presidents of all,

Ronald Reagan, was well into his 70`s whilst in office. I am 67 and am only just starting out in life. You start to get old when you are

around 95. You must not listen to those silly people in Life who say you are finished once you hit 50. 


You, like Jack and all of us are part of Life`s rich history and the odds were always stacked horribly against us in trying to defend the innocents. Perhaps the work we have done will save us from Hades at the end of our days, in my case it will be a pretty close thing.

Eileen and I will stay on the Board and prove the wisdom and value of years.


Seriously, thank you for all you did for the unborn, God Bless you and your family and enjoy a peaceful and happy retirement.

Ted  Fawcett.



Thank you for your letter and your heartfelt words. As the second youngest trustee I owe you a debt for getting me involved in this great cause.


 It is clear that you have contributed quite wonderfully over the years and your ‎excellent article shows what we all know. Your depth of knowledge and communication skills are unparalleled in this area. 


I sincerely hope that the role of trustee will be considerably more than spreadsheets, even if I do enjoy a spreadsheet from time to time. We need to get this charity on its feet financially if we are to survive for another 50 years, but we must not lose sight of our important role as trustees in shaping strategy. I'm confident that the high calibre of the new trustees will help us achieve this. 


I've appreciated knowing and working with you in this role. I wish you all the best in your retirement. 



Jonathan Wright


Dear John 


I echo everything that has already been said. 


I am aware that the organisation is going through an extensive period of transformational change and I have been grateful for your support during this time. 


The challenges we face in the pro-life movement will continue to increase over the coming years and you, with your colleague trustees, have helped to better position Life to respond to these challenges. 


Thank you. 


With every blessing for the future. 


Stephen Sharpe (CEO of Life).

Dear John apologies for delay - I'm still recovering from the shock of your resignation!! It was the last thing I expected. 

Like you my history with LIFE goes back a long way and had made me largely what I am today!!

As for age, well I've done 70 and am going back down the other way!! But I keep telling myself that hopefully some knowledge, wisdom, tolerance and good humour has been accrued along the way, plus a lot of love!!

So, never mind retiring.....get back on board and let's keep going. I love your witty comments and can't manage without them!

Failing that- well done, good and faithful pro lifer. You have been and are, an inspiration to us all.

God Bless

Eileen Maher


Yes, but your departure will be a huge loss.... Life needs vision, courage, experience.  You have them. 

 I hope that the newcomers will begin to fill the gap!

And thank you for all that you contributed to Life over the years.  You were a real heavyweight.

The best to you and the family.

Jack Scarisbrick.

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