The life of a missionary who left a small Wharfedale village to establish churches and schools in Madagascar will be remembered as a chapel celebrates its 150th anniversary in September.

The Reverend William Kendall Gale, the son of an Addingham master stonemason and Methodist preacher, was a pioneering missionary in northern Madagascar from 1908 until his death in 1935.

In his missionary work, he established 250 village churches, plus schools for training teachers.

His life and work has been researched by a member of Mount Hermon Chapel, Addingham, and a plaque to commemorate him will be unveiled on Sunday, September 18.

The chapel was built in 1861, and is planning special events in September, including an evening with an interpreter performing as founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley.

Pictures and information about the history of the chapel – and the life and times of Kendall Gale, will go on display at Mount Hermon Chapel on September 15, 16 and 17.

William Kendall Gale was baptised at Mount Hermon Wesleyan Reform Church, as it was then known, in July 1873. He was educated at Addingham National School, leaving at 15 to work for a Burnely firm.

After studying in London, he returned to Addingham as pastor of Mount Hermon.

He studied further in the early 20th Century, and headed overseas with his wife and children in September 1908, bound for Madagascar.

Life was not easy as a missionary, by all accounts. Some of the locals were initially hostile, and even met him armed with spears and axes on occassion. He also suffered malaria, black water fever and dysentery. Kendall Gale and his family returned to England every five years for a break, and word of his work quickly spread, gaining him something of a following.

He had intended to retire in 1937, hoping to have established 300 churches in Madagascar before doing so. Sadly, he suffered complications from an operation in 1935 and passed away.

More information on Kendall Gale’s life, and the history of Mount Hermon Chapel, will be on display at the chapel between 10am and noon on the three days of the display.