Author(s): Robert and Linda Banks
Amy Oxley Wilkinson was arguably the most widely known female Australian missionary in China and the West in the early 20th century. She was the great granddaughter of colonial chaplain Samuel Marsden and granddaughter of celebrated explorer John Oxley. After rescuing an abandoned blind boy, she founded an innovative Blind Boys School in Fuzhou which is now a major institution in Fujian Province. Her husband Dr George Wilkinson set up the city's first hospital and introduced a program to address the pervasive curse of opium addiction. Amy's holistic and vocational approach to disability education brought her national and later international recognition. In 1920, the president of the new Chinese republic awarded her the Order of the Golden Grain, the highest honour a foreigner could receive. Two years later, Amy and the School's brass band were presented to Queen Mary in England. Amy's story highlights the significance of Australia's contribution to the development of early modern China and is a challenge to anyone committed to making their life count for others.
Over the last few years, Linda and Robert Banks have developed a close connection with Fujian Province in south-east China. Their joint book, View from the Faraway Pagoda: A Pioneer Australian Missionary in China from the Boxer Rebellion to the Communist Insurgency, began a journey of discovery about fascinating Australians who once lived and worked there. Linda has been teacher, pastor and university chaplain. Robert has taught in universities and theological colleges and written several award-winning books. Together they enjoy travelling and serving in various locations, primarily in Asia and Australia.