The Life & Times of Charles Dunning View larger

The Life & Times of Charles Dunning


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Knight of Baháʼu'lláh to the Orkney Islands.

By Dr Keith Munro.


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Charles Dunning came from a large working-class family in Morley, Yorkshire. Born into the misery of 1880s England, he was unable to walk till he was nine. His father sent him down the local coalmine at 13. Subsequently he was enrolled as a merchant seaman, probably to avoid further incidents of petty crime. After years at sea and then in and out of numerous lowly jobs on shore, he responded to 'YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!', serving as a Private in both World Wars. Having experienced the horrors of seeing mass graves in France during the First World War he lived through the 56 days and nights of the London blitz during the Second Was. With little or no moral compass, he spent years in and out of prison. One judge, in passing sentence, stated that 'the prisoner had spent the best part of his life in committing crime and no doubt would continue to do so. All he had to consider now was the protection of society'.

Demobbed from the 1939-45 war, he sought answers - visiting many difference churches in Manchester. His eye caught an advert highlighting the 'The Oneness of Mankind', that convinced him within weeks to convert to the Bahai Faith. During the remains of his 82 years, he shared his newly found Faith with thousands of people he met on his journey. The path remained thorny, dogged by a brusque manner, chronic lung disease and a physical visage rejected by many. He was the first Bahai to pioneer to Belfast and then to the Orkney Islands, winning an accolade and title 'Knight of Baháʼu'lláh'.

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