Pat “Tricia” Hillson

Patricia Hillson was born in Lincoln UK in 1928, the younger of two sisters. Her father was a jeweller and her mother a teacher, and Pat followed in her mother’s footsteps as a lifelong teacher of small children. She met the love of her life Tubby on a youth club trip to visit the sights of London by night, in the sorting room of a central London Post Office! They married in 1952 and had two children David (1955) and Ann (1957). Pat suffered from constant bad health from the age of 15 when she contracted TB (tuberculosis), and later polio. At one point she was paralysed from the neck down, only able to move her head and two fingers, but she overcame her many difficulties with determination, learning to drive and working as a fulltime teacher for over 40 years.

Pat always had a clear faith, knowing God was taking care of her throughout the trials of her life. A series of miraculous healings in the family in 1969 brought her faith experience to a new level, and encountering the first YWAM team to come to England in 1970 gave her an outlet for her new-found enthusiasm. Along with her husband Tubby, Pat (by now preferring to be called “Tricia”) transformed their north London home into a centre of hospitality for YWAMmers, and many staff and students found refuge and peace there, with Tricia offering a listening and praying heart. Despite continuing ill-health, Tricia worked alongside Tubby to establish YWAM England in the early days, and was a regular visitor to Holmsted Manor and Ifield Hall.

Tragedy struck Tricia when Tubby died unexpectedly in 1985 (see his memorial page). Following an apparently successful operation for oesophageal cancer, his body shut down and he died in the operating theatre. She found the loss of her life partner hugely difficult to bear, but continued to offer hospitality and ministry through the London house, as well as teaching fulltime in a local school until her retirement in 1988. After retiring Tricia spent time with her family in UK and USA, travelled a little, and kept in touch with her YWAM friends. All was well until she fell and broke her hip while visiting her son David in 1997. She never fully recovered from the hip operation, had difficulty walking, and soon had to move from her London home to a care home in Hampshire, close to David and his wife Liz. Alzheimer’s Disease quickly developed and Tricia became unaware of much of her surroundings, and increasingly frail, until she died peacefully in her sleep on 17 January 2001. Many YWAM friends and others came to her funeral and shared how she had touched their lives through her gentle care and prayer.

Tricia will be remembered as an early pioneer of YWAM in England, and an important part of the hidden support network that enabled the more glamorous ministries to function.

[See also Tubby’s memorial page – 1985]

4 thoughts on “Pat “Tricia” Hillson”

  1. While I lacked the opportunity of knowing Tricia as well as Tubby, her husband, she still left an indelible mark! I remember on at least two occasions – having stepped out on to the water and into YWAM – receiving unexpected ‘care packages’ from Tricia. They were all beautifully wrapped and contained a thoughtful array of gifts and treats: enough to settle any foreigner into an unfamiliar environment. Little did I realise how Tricia modelled, so lovingly, a key YWAM and biblical value: practicing hospitality as “an expression of God’s character and the value of people”. She certainly did that in so many ways, and I have heard many stories of how she and Tubby opened their London home to waifs and strays along the way. I’m certain many folk have been touched by her generosity, as I was, over many years. Well done, good and faithful servant, Tricia!

  2. What a privilege to meet Tricia, her husband Tubby and their very fine children David and Ann. Each of them were (and are) amazingly gifted people in their own way. If ever there was an example of a Christian home, this was it. The hospitality of the Hillsons was legendary. It was all the more remarkable and inspiring when one considers the great health burdens under which Tricia laboured and which she took in a spirit that uplifted everyone she met. You felt a better person by the mere fact that Tricia said “Hello” to you. Tricia had a special car which allowed her to drive without the use of her feet. Her whole life was an uphill climb. She was inspired and inspiring.

    The love of God was palpable in their presence. Tricia and Tubby were two of the most Christlike people I met. If all Christians were like them, all our churches would be full.

  3. Tricia could be defined as Mrs Hospitality if there were a contest. Together with Tubby, nothing was too much effort in being hospitable.

    While always looking for ways to bless others, it was second place to her love for her husband and children. Tricia had her priorities right.

    The years after Tubby’s death were not easy, but Tricia modelled how God’s grace is sufficient always.

    Ila Howard.

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