Who was Canon John Collins?

Canon John Collins, who served at St Paul’s Cathedral in London for 33 years, was the catalyst for several of Britain’s most significant post-war social movements. He is best known for his work in creating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Christian Action and the British Anti Apartheid Movement.

Canon Collins visited South Africa for the first time in 1954 and was horrifed by the racial segregation and oppression that he witnessed. In response to the Treason Trial and the apartheid government’s increasingly repressive regime, Collins established the Defence and Aid Fund to pay activists’ legal expenses and care for their families. His initiative soon became an international network, secretly channelling legal aid to activists including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.

The Canon Collins Educational Trust for Southern Africa (CCETSA) was founded in 1981 to support education for refugees from South Africa and Namibia exiled in the UK. After his death in 1983, the Trust took Canon Collins’ name. It continues to represent his values of freedom, equality and social justice by providing educational opportunities to southern Africa’s future leaders.

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Canon Collins was awarded the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Gold. Click here to read the citation.

Click here to read about Ethel de Keyser, who lead the Trust for the first twenty-five years.