HealthHigh FliersMedevac

Missionary Maud Kells OBE dies peacefully at the age of 84

27th October 2023

It’s with great sadness that we must announce the peaceful passing of missionary and MAF’s friend Maud Kells OBE who died yesterday at the age of 84, following a short illness. A dedicated servant of God, Maud gave 54 years of her life to improving health and education in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We thank God for her incredible life

The late Maud Kells OBE – author, speaker, trainer, midwife and nurse – worked tirelessly to improve people’s lives in Mulita, north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where she spent 54 years of her life.

Besides playing an important role in Maud’s work – flying her safely and swiftly from A to B – MAF also played a critical role in saving her life when, one night, she was shot in the chest by an armed robber outside her home. Without the medevac, Maud would have certainly died at the age of 75.

Nearly 10 years later, in her hometown of Cookstown, Northern Ireland, the Lord has called her home.

The Rev Tom Greer from Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown – Maud’s home church – knew her for 22 years. He pays tribute:

‘Maud was a tremendous woman. She was utterly dedicated to the people she served. It didn’t matter what she was doing – working in the maternity unit, helping with the construction of a building or teaching in school – Maud’s sacrificial service was motivated by the glory of God.

‘So much of her heart lay in the DRC – she really, really loved the people there – and took light aircraft (MAF) full of medicine every time she went. She was a great inspiration and encouragement to so many people.

‘People looked up to her in so many ways, but her greatest impact was in the Congo where she saved many lives through her work. That is her legacy.’

Rev Tom Greer – Molesworth Presbyterian Church, Cookstown, Northern Ireland

Maud is survived by two sisters and her funeral will take place at Molesworth Presbyterian Church this Sunday.

Magnificent Maud – determination like no other

Since 1968 – until her retirement in 2022 – Maud had been serving the people of the DRC primarily as a nurse with WEC International. She was a frequent flyer with MAF (at least 70 times) ever since the charity started flying there in the 1980s.

Maud was featured in 2015’s New Year’s Honours list, receiving an OBE for her services to the people of the DRC.

Not long after learning she had been awarded an OBE, Maud nearly lost her life one fateful night.

What happened?

On 4 January 2015 at the age of 75, Maud was disturbed late at night by someone pretending to be the husband of one of her patients.

An elaborate hoax lured Maud away from her home in Mulita, where she was living, and upon returning to the house from the clinic, she was confronted by armed robbers.

‘I was just coming into my compound when suddenly, two bandits wearing masks and camouflage clothing, ran from around the back of the house, pointing what I thought was a replica gun at me. I went to grab it and immediately of course he pulled the trigger. I was shot through the chest.’

Maud Kells OBE speaking at the ‘Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Award, 2015’

Maud was eventually helped. Although stabilised, she was going to need more medical attention.

MAF was called to perform a medevac – pilot Jon Cadd flew to Mulita from the MAF base in Nyankunde with a team of local doctors!

From there, Jon and the team flew Maud back to the MAF base where she was transported on to Nyankunde Mission Hospital where she was safe and recovered well.

Jon Cadd, along with his wife Cher, kindly hosted Maud in their home for five days before she made the trip back to her home in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she convalesced for almost a year.

Following her recovery, Maud finally received her OBE from Prince William at Buckingham Palace in London.

No stopping her!

Maud was horrendously attacked but survived.

Despite everything, and where most would be happy to enjoy the comforts of western living, Maud was determined to go back to Mulita. She wasn’t going to let that attack stop her from continuing the vital work she’d been doing for the last fifty years!

With the same gumption she’d always had, an OBE and an ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year Award’ under her belt, Maud was greeted by the entire community of Mulita when she returned to the DRC on 4 December 2015.

There was singing and dancing – a celebratory ceremony! Maud had returned to a community full of joy.

Not only did she return in full-health, Maud also returned in a MAF plane packed full of medical supplies, baby clothes and gifts for the community.

It’s amazing for MAF to be part of such an inspirational story. Until her death, Maud continued to support the community of Mulita remotely from her home in Northern Ireland.

‘So much of the healing process was really MAF caring for me, loving me and just being so kind and so hospitable. I probably wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for MAF!’ 
Maud Kells OBE interviewed by Amanda Ferguson, Belfast Telegraph

May her legacy live on

Even during Maud’s retirement, MAF flew her and a batch of medical supplies to Mulita Hospital in March 2022.

Maud started building Mulita Hospital in the1980s followed by Mulita Primary School. Both buildings were completed in 2013. Today, the school has around 700 pupils.

Right up until March this year, Maud was investigating how best to expand the buildings to accommodate the ongoing work. Her ministry comprises of the hospital, primary school, nursery, staff accommodation and offices.

Maud achieved so much in her industrious life, but it was her unshakable faith in Christ that always saw her through. Before her death, Maud spoke about God’s purposes:

‘The Lord allowed me to have that experience to share with the world what a mighty God we have who brought me through.

‘He promised me Genesis Chapter 28 verse 15: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”’   

You can listen to Maud on MAF UK’s ‘Flying for Life’ podcast with Josh Carter.  Episode 3 explores medevacs and access to healthcare in the DRC, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. Maud is joined by Dr Diana Zwijnenburg and MAF pilot Ping Domtta.

The Flying for Life podcast is a free resource and part of MAF’s ‘He Saw It Was Good’ Bible Study Series, which explores how Christians can support sustainable development.

News coverage

Belfast Telegraph
Belfast News Letter
Belfast Live
Yahoo News
Northern Ireland World
The Guardian
Daily Mail
Irish Times
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph

Maud’s book ‘An Open Door – a true story of courage in Congo’ was published in 2019

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