Devizes retired minister's comedy will battle cancer
11:00am Sunday 19th January 2014 in By Lewis Cowen
Retired Baptist minister the Rev Charles Sutherland has put pen to paper to fight the prostate cancer he has suffered from for the past seven years.
Mr Sutherland, 83, from Canal Way, Devizes, wrote the comic novel Faancy That! to entertain his family but then thought it might find a wider audience to raise money for charity.
He said: “A few years ago I produced a small booklet, which highlighted the poverty and frugality in the village in the Highlands of Scotland in which I spent my childhood. Forty of these were sold in the village and raised about £700 for Prostate Cancer.
“Having the condition myself and knowing that about 35,000 men are diagnosed every year in the UK, I decided to have this latest book published as well.”
Mr Sutherland, who was chaplain at Roundway Hospital in Devizes for 31 years, said: “The novel is entirely fictional and may be rightly described as simple, earthy, rude and insensitive in places. Nevertheless, behind the amusing incidents, it highlights the social ethos that existed in the Highlands of Scotland in the early parts of the last century.”
Among the incidents described is the fate of a character called Shinty who, while using an earth toilet – there were no plumbed-in facilities in those days – had the misfortune to break the toilet seat and fall in.
In the Presbyterian Sabbath of the day, no work was allowed and many people dressed all in black to attend worship.
Mr Sutherland said: “This I have always found difficult to comprehend, as the Jesus of the New Testament was not anxious to keep the Sabbath.”
The hero of the novel is Donald Mackenzie, with whom Mr Sutherland identifies closely.
He said: “Having left school without any qualifications I experienced similar difficulties. His conversion experience was mine.”
Mr Sutherland and his wife Christine have three sons, six grandchildren and two step great grandchildren.
Faancy That! is on sale at Devizes Books, priced £6.99, £2 of which will go to Prostate Cancer Research.