Dunne saddened by death of Dr Bill Woods OBE - missionary to Brazil

North Down DUP MLA Stephen Dunne has expressed his sadness at the passing of pioneer missionary Dr Bill Woods OBE.

By Stephen Dunne MLA

North Down

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Mr Dunne commented,
"I was very saddened to hear of the death of Dr Bill Woods OBE. Bill was an incredible man who worked so faithfully, humbly and diligently for so many years as a missionary and Medical Doctor in Brazil. Bill’s incredible work with people suffering from leprosy led to him becoming affectionately known as the ‘Angel of the Amazon’.

Bill was born in Belfast in October 1937, becoming the youngest of five children. During WW2 his family relocated to Ballygowan whilst his father served in the Navy. In 1952, after attending Ravenhill Road Free Presbyterian Church Bill became a Christian. Shortly after, Bill felt called to enter into full-time missionary work. After hearing of the tragic death of a young missionary Mrs Ina Orr in Brazil, Bill became convinced that he was meant to serve in Brazil.

Bill Woods arrived in Brazil in 1960 where he quickly learned Portuguese and became involved in ‘river ministry’ along the isolated tributaries of the Amazon River. Through his early experiences in Brazil Bill saw first-hand the debilitating effects Leprosy was having on the lives of local people. In 1968 he moved to Manaus to begin medical studies and in 1974 he topped his graduation class to become Dr William Woods MD. Using his newly acquired skills Bill, fluent in Portuguese began his work as the Co-Coordinator of the Leprosy Programme for the Brazilian state of Acre, helped to bring relief to thousands of leprosy sufferers and bring leprosy under control within the Amazon region of Brazil.

Bill’s lifetime of service was formally recognised in the form of an OBE awarded to him by the late Her Majesty The Queen in 1997 and official recognition within Brazil. In the final years of his life, Bill continued to be an inspiration to both young and old alike, spending much of his time at home in Bangor. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathy to his family and friends as they mourn the loss of a truly remarkable and gracious gentleman who left behind a wonderful legacy and testimony."

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