Tributes have been paid to local Methodist Minister, Rev Andy Laird, who died peacefully at home on Thursday June 9, following a three-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Here is an obituary written by Trevor Langley, close family friend and church /musical colleague of Andy.
Andy was born in December 1955 in Cardiff and the family lived in Penarth. The second of five sons to his parents, John (Alistair) and Annette (Mary) Laird. The family were involved in the Methodist Church in the village where they lived in Burton upon Trent, and Andy and his brothers attended Sunday School.
Andy’s father retrained as a teacher of maths and physics and the family moved to Worcester in 1965, where he became head boy of his primary school.
Andy’s best friend in childhood was the son of the Methodist Minister, and they went on to join Life Boys – (later the Boys Brigade.) Within a year Andy was starting at Worcester Royal Grammar School and ended up as captain of various rugby teams. He showed a flair for maths and left school to pursue a college course in business studies.
Andy purchased his first guitar in 1969 through “the catalogue” and thus began his love of singing and playing, which carried on right through his lifetime. He went on to buy many other guitars, which became some of his most treasured possessions.
Andy met Ann Dudek in 1973, as part of a college friendship group, and they were married in August 1977. Their daughter, Becky, was born in July 1979 and son Chris was born in October 1981.
By this time Andy had passed his college exams and started as a trainee accountant with Worcestershire County Council. His career in accountancy blossomed and he ended up moving to Warwick to work for Warwickshire County Council, becoming principal auditor, then group auditor by 1985. Later career moves took Andy to work for Coventry, South Warwickshire and Rugby Health Authorities Internal Audit Consortium as assistant treasurer; West Midlands Regional Health Authority as principal accountant; Warwickshire County Council as assistant county treasurer; Prichard, Stone, and Partners - Birmingham Office Manager, Partner; KPMG Birmingham - senior manager, management consultant, director healthcare audit; district audit - district auditor (Lincoln), district auditor (West Midlands - Health).
Andy and Ann worshipped at Northgate Methodist Church in Warwick and Andy felt called to become a local preacher. He had been playing and singing in church for some time but following a weekend away with the young people from church, he was asked to talk about the weekend. He shared the Footprints poem with the congregation and explained the effect this had had on him. The response to this inspired him to start looking into becoming a local preacher. He took all the training, alongside his full-time, demanding job in accountancy. He and Ann took on various roles within the church at Northgate, including writing and delivering study notes and courses.
Andy preached, studied, and felt called to train as a Methodist Minister, taking up his first appointment in September 2003 at Kenilworth Methodist Church as a Probationer Minister. He was ordained as a full Methodist Minister in Exeter Methodist Church in 2005. He took over as Minister at Dale Street in Leamington in 2007, and over a period of time had pastoral oversight of the Methodist churches at Kenilworth, Cubbington, Dale Street, Radford Road, Wellesbourne, Fenny Compton and Knightcote.
Andy retired from Ministry in 2018 and moved to Hampton Magna. He volunteered at the Oxfam Bookshop in Leamington, and he and Ann started to worship at Holy Trinity C of E Church Hatton, where Andy was able to lead services, preach, and be involved in school assemblies at Ferncumbe Primary School.
By January 2019, he was finding it difficult to maintain chords on his beloved guitar, which he had been using in church services wherever he went. In July of 2019 he was given the news that he had Motor Neurone Disease – just one year into his retirement.
Andy was determined to fight back, and to do all he could to promote the work of the MND Association. He fundraised, spoke on radio, and took up various personal challenges. But this became more difficult as Covid Restrictions came into place.
He invented the “Reverse Triathlon” for April Fool’s Day in 2020. He walked 500 steps around his back garden to represent the running part, then cycled 1 km on the exercise bike, then for the swimming element he took a shower.This raised over £9,000 for MNDA.
Various family members and friends took up challenges to raise funds for research into MND, and by the following April Fool’s Day, in 2021, Andy had come up with the idea of an egg and spoon race around the village in electric wheelchairs, against his friend Trevor Langley. With all the support from colleagues, friends, family and contacts, Andy’s Fight-Back Fund has reached over £45,000.
The disease had taken its toll, robbing Andy of movement and causing difficulties with breathing. His last few months have been spent in bed, watching his favourite box sets on TV (which he did as his final sponsored challenge on April Fool’s Day this year), communicating very quietly with Ann and his immediate family. Because of the risk of Covid, receiving visitors has been particularly difficult. And his battle with MND finally ended on Thursday June 9, aged sixty-six and a half.
In his own words, at the end of his life story, which he has compiled with the help of a dictation machine, over the last two years, Andy wrote: “The disease continues its relentless progress. I continue to remain strong and my determination to fight the disease is still there. I know it will get me in the end, but I feel that every penny raised is a small win. I think the current balance on my fightback fund is a big one. The MND Association will be able to do so much with it to research a cure and support other sufferers like me.”
Andy has touched many lives over his years in local church life and has been pastor to many ill and bereaved people.
His contribution to the local Methodist Churches has been recognised and valued by so many, along with his musical skills and enthusiasm for Churches Together In Warwick, Leamington and Kenilworth Gang Shows and several musical productions. He took the lead as Joseph in a touring churches production of the Andrew Lloyd Weber Musical and was a leading light in the productions of “Sing to the King” and “Crown Him” by Churches Together in recent years. Each year, he would be one of the musicians for the Warwick Mencap / Headway Carol Service at Northgate Methodist Church.Richard Andrew Laird will be remembered as a loving son, devoted husband and father, a faithful friend, a trusted colleague and a loyal, hard-working Methodist Minister, guitarist, singer, preacher and fierce campaigner for MND.
RIP Andy – Thou Good and Faithful Servant.
Funeral arrangements: Wednesday July 6 at Dale Street Methodist Church. Please email [email protected] for full details and to RSVP.For those wishing to donate to Andy’s MND Fightback Fund, please use the following link –https://andy-laird-fightback.muchloved.com/Fundraising/Events/653446882