Brother James Kimpton, also known as Brother Lionel, died in India, aged 92, on 5th October 2017.
Rarely has a single person, through his vision, energy and loving action touched so many lives and ensured a better future for so many children and families. His was a lifetime of service amongst the poorest and most marginalised people in south India. His legacy is a respected and immensely effective organisation – Reaching the Unreached – based in the small village of G Kallupatti, north-west of Madurai.
Born in north Wales in 1925, Brother James grew up in Chester with his three brothers and a sister. At the age of fourteen, he applied to join the De La Salle Brothers, a Catholic lay teaching order. He made his final vows in 1944 and after a year at St John’s School in Southsea, moved in 1947 to St Peter’s School, in Bournemouth.
There, he inspired lifelong dedication from his pupils and generous and sustained support for his future work. In 1952 he was sent overseas to Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it then was where, having seen the abject poverty, he set up a school of printing for deaf and blind boys.
In 1964, the Ceylon government expelled foreigners, and Brother James moved to Madurai, in south India, where he managed Boys’ Town, an industrial training school for destitute boys. He himself at that time studied mechanical engineering and childcare. Then, in 1974 he moved to a rural area, north-west of Madurai where he built a Boys’ Village for 100 orphaned and abandoned boys.