Susanna and Chris Naylor

naylorsThe deaths in a road accident of Susanna and Chris Naylor stunned many, not least neighbours and friends in Shipton. They had been on a work trip to South Africa at the end of October 2019, supporting the Christian charity A Rocha (The Rock), when the car in which they were passengers left the road, crashed through a bridge and fell into the river. Chris and Susanna were killed instantly. The tragedy ended a lifetime of Christian service towards others and to the environment.

Their respective backgrounds were, literally, miles apart. Susanna, the daughter of Christian missionaries, was born in Ghana while Chris hailed from St Leonards-on-Sea. They met while studying at Cambridge, both leaving as science graduates.

Teaching jobs in Kuwait soon blossomed into a fascination with and love of the Middle East. Jordan was followed by Lebanon. They both learned Arabic and it was while they were in the Bekaa Valley that Chris discovered the Aammiq Wetland. Outdoor educational activities were developed, identification booklets compiled and there was even the establishment of an eco-restaurant to provide local employment in the sourcing and cooking of native foods.

Their love of this special environment was summed up by Chris when he wrote: ‘I felt a call to write the gospel in the landscape, to recognise that our fantastic God loves this place, just like he loves the individuals around it.’

In 2010 Chris became Executive Director of A Rocha, based in the UK and living here in Shipton. He was a much-appreciated leader, described by The Revd Dr Dave Bookless of A Rocha as ‘Calm, inclusive and yet clear and decisive as A Rocha became a leading global voice in creation care, respected for its practical experience all around the world and its clear biblical basis’. Under his care, A Rocha flourished and is now active in 21 countries.’

At the time of their tragic accident, Susanna had recently begun a new role as Head of Science at Christ Church Cathedral School; this followed several years in a parallel role at Kitebrook School just outside Moreton in Marsh. In his tribute to Susanna in the Oxford Times, the headmaster of the Cathedral School wrote: ‘Mrs Naylor planted so many seeds in the hearts and minds of her pupils where they will only continue to grow over the years. She was an inspiration, someone who was here to serve. I feel deeply privileged to have worked with her and seen first-hand the way in which her work of love touched and transformed so many.’
Chris and Susanna are survived by their three children, Sam, Chloe and Joshua.

Details of the A Rocha charity can be found here: www.arocha.org

February – March 2020