Douglas Weddell Thompson (1903 – 1981) was born in Gateshead, and after leaving school at the age of fourteen he took several jobs before being called into the Methodist ministry.
Thompson studied at Handsworth and then joined the Methodist Mission in China in 1925. This proved to be a defining period in his life. His experiences in China were inter-twined with the Japanese invasion, the second Sino-Japanese war. This eventually led him to flee China in 1939. On his return to England, he enlisted as an army chaplain and was off into the world again.
Taken prisoner during the North Africa campaign, Thompson spent the rest of the war in captivity, moving from camp to camp, including spending time in Stalag Luft III at the time of the infamous “Great Escape”.
In 1958, Thompson was appointed General Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society and in 1966 was elected President of Conference to the Methodist Church. During his life, Thompson met, and was well liked by a wide range of important people, including Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John XXIII and the King and Queen of Tonga.