Clockwise from left: Nigel Pollock, former National Director of TSCF, Chris Grantham, former General Secretary of TSCF, Ben Carswell, National Director of TSCF and Robert Withycombe, former General Secretary of TSCF
I had the privilege of working from 1970-71, alongside Charles Waldegrave and Michael Powell, as a Travelling Secretary for the New Zealand Inter Varsity Fellowship (now TSCF), under the leadership of Robert Withycombe. Robert was a gently spoken, academic man, who certainly had his challenges in those years. He was navigating a new country, a new marriage, a new baby son, Hugh, and the unique, new impacts of the charismatic movement, then sweeping through all the tertiary groups in NZ.
All this alongside directing his staff of singular characters, known by the students as the “Travelling Secs”. We were gloriously unaware of the headaches he must have had in those years, particularly interpreting the ways of God — and students — to the IVF aristocracy in the north, but his calm, reasoned approach to matters theological and spiritual contributed significantly to the balanced way that this new growth was received and absorbed.
Susan Mary, his sparkling and very intelligent wife, lectured at Victoria University in English, and was a wonderful partner to a gracious and learned man. It was a moving experience for me to meet them both again in 2018, this time with Susan Mary clearly supporting her now disabled husband. I am so grateful for the freedom that Robert allowed us in those very special years, which were life-changing for me and for many others. He was an Anglican officer and a thorough-going gentleman.
Felicia Edgecombe (née Auld)