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Canon John Collins: Wikis


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John Collins (1905 – 1982) was an Anglican clergyman who was active in several radical political movements in the United Kingdom.

Educated at Cranbrook School Kent and the University of Cambridge, he served as a chaplain in the Royal Air Force during World War II and was radicalised by the experience. In 1946, he founded the organization Christian Action to work for reconciliation with Germany. He was appointed as a Canon to St Paul's Cathedral, London in 1948, an office he held for thirty-three years. Shortly afterwards he became disturbed by the newly developing apartheid system in South Africa.

In 1951, he was one of the four founders of the charity War on Want, which fights global poverty. In 1956, he committed Christian Action to raising funds for the defence of anti-apartheid activists accused of treason in South Africa, and this gave rise to the Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa.

Canon Collins was strongly opposed to the spread of nuclear weapons and was one of many on the left in Britain who believed that it was unnecessary and wrong for Britain to own such weapons. He was one of the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He was also a member of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, working with Reverend Sidney Hinkes on anti-nuclear campaigns.

The Canon Collins Educational Trust for Southern Africa (CCETSA) is a charity founded in 1981. It was set up as the Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa and Canon Collins was its first Chairman. In the days of apartheid, it provided money to help South African and Namibian refugee students gain the higher education in the United Kingdom and in independent African states. It now provides scholarships for students within South Africa and in other African countries.


He married Diana Clavering Elliot (1917 - 2003) in 1939; they had four sons. Diana Collins was knighted in 1999 as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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Preceded by
Newly founded
Chair of CND
Succeeded by
Olive Gibbs


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