A PREACHER and campaigner described as a ‘gem of a man’ has died after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.

Philip Nuttall, 75, was a preacher in the Wesleyan Reform Union of Churches (WRU) for more than 50 years.

In 2011, the James Hudson Taylor Group was formed and Philip became treasurer and joint secretary, becoming instrumental in the completion of a historical trail marking important sites in the formation of the China Inland Mission, last year.

The mission, founded by Hudson Taylor, is one of the largest Christian movements in the world - and plaques mark 14 sites around Barnsley, starting and finishing at Salem Wesleyan Reform Church, Blucher Street.

Philip, who lived in the Peak District, had a ‘strong affinity’ with Barnsley since working as a mining engineer locally in the 1960s and 1970s.

He was also involved in the FairShare programme that saw Monk Bretton Methodist Church and Worsbrough Community Church redeveloped into outreach centres, and was chairman of Mind in Barnsley.

Jenifer Dore, of Salem Wesleyan Reform Church, said: “Philip was the ultimate, consummate professional.

“He was a long-standing member of the WRU general committee, working tirelessly to support churches with property issues and legal issues.

“He was known for his lengthy, complicated, detailed reports often written and sent out by email late at night.”

Philip was also a trustee of Access to Sport and Recreation, based at Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare Sports Ground - now in the hands of ex-Barnsley FC striker Bruce Dyer.

He also helped Bruce’s Love Life UK Church find its new home at Blucher Street.

Bruce said: “Philip took so much pride in all that he was involved in and he will be greatly missed. Heaven has received a gem of a man.”