Bob Hiley, the founder of Book Aid went to be with the Lord in the early hours of the morning of 18th February. Bob (and Ada who died 18 months ago) was in Christian Literature ministry for over 60 years – 30 with CLC and 30 with Book Aid. Bob came to faith on board ship serving in the Royal Navy through reading the Bible and when in dock in Chatham found the CLC shop there. The literature ministry of CLC profoundly awoke his calling to serve God through Christian Literature. He and Ada were candidates in the old WEC Highland Road HQ back in the 1950s under the leadership of Norman Grubb and Len Moules and Pa and Ma Whybrow. They went on to serve in CLC Birmingham, Leicester and London.
The high volume of sales they achieved in the Leicester shop drew the attention of the leadership and in the 1960s, whilst in his 30s, Bob was asked to serve CLC as Leader which he did for the next 9 years. They moved on to set up CLC IRIS (International Research and Information Service) in the days pre-computer. They became part of the CLC International Office and Bob travelled widely from the 1960s onwards supporting CLC work around the world. During this time he also worked with the Evangelical Alliance to set up the missionary arm which became the Evangelical Missionary Alliance (now Global Connections).
On leaving CLC at the age of 56, he/they started a small work in the back of the car collecting used Christian books to send to African contacts who could not afford new books and so began what became Book Aid. An absolute visionary to the end, always wanting to be in active service for the Lord in literature ministry he poured himself out for God. Sometimes misunderstood in his zeal and his piercing single-minded vision, but kind and so gracious right to the end you can probably tell that we (his family) loved him and honoured him for all that he stood for and the example he set. Bob lived and breathed passion for the Word of God. Some of his co-workers will speak of the pace he set for himself and for others who had ‘to run to keep up with him’ but many also speak of the vision and action he combined so effectively for the Kingdom of God. Never someone who sought recognition or affirmation he had the enormous privilege of knowing that lives were being changed through the books he enabled to be distributed for the glory of God.
There is absolutely no doubt the legacy he has left is immeasurable.
Bob specified that a photo should be taken and released to the press – ‘with a challenge to others to release what God has entrusted to them for his church work and kingdom on earth’. He did not want to waste any opportunity to envision the next generation and challenge them that when one saint goes home to glory others step up to continue the work.
Book Aid continues apace. On the very day he died requests for containers were arriving at the London warehouse. Books continue to pour in, praise God, and we are thankful to God for the privilege of continuing this awesome programme.
Bob’s daughter and Book Aid Director.
At the 2015 Christian Resources Together (CRT) retreat in September this year Bob and Ada Hiley were privileged to be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their many years of serving God through Christian Literature.
Bob & Ada Hiley Receive Lifetime Achievement Award
The award was presented to them at the Book Aid Head Office in South London prior to the Annual Retreat by Steve and Mandy Briars the organisers of CRT so that Bob could be present. Ada was able to attend the Retreat at The Hayes, Swanick where the award was formally presented at the Gala Dinner by Ian Metcalfe Director of Publishing, Hodder and Stoughton.
In presenting the award Ian spoke of Bob and Ada being well known for Book Aid but that they had been with CLC for an incredible amount of time prior to that working in Leicester, Birmingham and London before becoming involved in the International ministry of CLC from which had come their inspiration to set up Book Aid. They had built up Book Aid to 2 depots, 200 collecting points and 6 bookshops in the UK. He went on to say that Steve Briars of Together Magazine had gone to interview Bob recently for an article to appear in the next edition and found out that Bob’s involvement with Christian literature went back to 1948 when he was in the Royal Navy. On board ship he had had a Bible to read but when the ship he was on docked in Chatham he came across the CLC bookshop and had been amazed at the number of Christian books available. The team at the shop had invited him to volunteer with them and he gladly became involved by packing books.
Ada received the award with great thanks on behalf of the Book Aid team:
“It’s a team effort – over 200 people collect for us from the Shetlands to the Channel Islands… Over 60 years we have been doing something we have really enjoyed. It didn’t matter how long the hours or how heavy the work we just got great pleasure from it. So thank you for recognising it.
Thank you to all who have helped. We have received so many lovely books and kind words. Many of the books, we don’t know where they have come from, so thank you to all the bookshops, publishers and individuals who have helped us. This award is for our lovely team of co-workers and helpers, not for us, we have just been a part of it.”
After twenty-seven years of founding and leading the Book Aid ministry Bob Hiley is standing down from leadership. Well known for his vision, energy and pioneering spirit he will be greatly missed. His legacy of over 300 containers of Christian literature sent by Book Aid to places of need across the world is evidence of God’s hand on this work. It will be difficult for Bob to give up work entirely so you may still see him helping where he can in the days ahead.
Interim Director Appointed
The Trustees have appointed Mrs Christine Pulsford as Interim Director as from 17th March 2015. She will lead Book Aid through a period of transition as work continues apace, handling the tide of Christian books that arrives daily. Your prayers are valued at this important time.
Thank you to all who have helped or are still helping in this exciting programme. By the grace of God we will carry on. More information will follow via the Book Aid website.
The Trustees of Book Aid Charitable Trust, 18th March 2015