In January, over 300 people attended the funeral of Bristol evangelist and musician, Freddie Gallichan, who has died aged 88.
His tireless ministry around Bristol touched countless lives. He used his musical gift to create a rapport with people before sharing the greater gift of Jesus Christ and his saving gospel.
Freddie was born in Jersey in 1931. His childhood was not without trials. He lost his mother when aged three and contracted TB in his hip, necessitating the wearing of a plaster cast for six years.
Freddie studied music in Canterbury as a teenager, but it was not until age 34 that he became a Christian. Working in a fish and chip shop in Watford, a customer spoke to him about the Saviour. Convicted of sin, Freddie sought and found reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
Freddie went on to teach Scripture and choruses in Bible clubs for children in suburbs of Bristol. He was also often seen preaching and playing the accordion in the open air with support from his wife, Anne, and their children, Hannah and Jonathan.
The family had setbacks during witnessing. In 1996, they had a ‘Statutory Nuisance Notice’ served on them by Bristol City Council, alleging excessive noise levels during their evangelistic open-air singing.
The story gained media attention, and Freddie was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman for the BBC. Together, they were dubbed the ‘Bristol Von Trapps’, after the singing family in The Sound of Music.
Following appeal, the council rescinded the nuisance notice and made financial reparation to Freddie.
Over the last 25 years of his life, Freddie continued to engage in evangelism, including monthly outreach in some 20 different retirement homes.
Freddie had many physical ailments to battle, from his fixed hip resulting in one leg being shorter than the other, to battling cancer and undergoing knee surgery.
However, Freddie pressed on. His line of work was piano tuning and restoration, from which he retired at the age of 85.
During his final months, his mission field became the wards of Southmead Hospital. Freddie would ask hospital staff, ‘Do you know how special you are?’ Everyone heard the gospel.
As Freddie’s final days approached, he said to me, ‘At harvest time, every minute is important… People must know that someone loves them.’
Freddie died at home, surrounded by his wife and children. He is buried in Westbury-on-Trym.
Roland R. Parsons