It is with deep sadness that we bring the news that our beloved friend, and the foundational heartbeat of the Reading Toy Run, Ben Spiller, has died.
After a short period of illness, Ben died peacefully on 9 April at the Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading. Whilst there, he had been constantly surrounded by his family, where he faced his failing health with dignity and a genuine sense of peace that his Christian faith brought.
For those of us close to Ben, we are truly heartbroken. As a husband to Jane for over forty years, a dad to three amazing kids and a grandfather to their children, our prayers are very much for them in these days of heartache.
It was Ben’s wish that in the present circumstances, his funeral be a small family gathering and we will honour that privately in the coming days. It was also his wish, that when we have the freedom to gather together once again, we meet to celebrate his life and mourn together as a wider community of people on the road and in church at a memorial service . We will also honour that, and plan to make that happen with details available in due course.
Ben lived his life in a way that leaves a huge legacy that came from his huge heart. An ordinary bloke that dared to believe you can make a difference in the lives of others – for good. The Toy Run is only part of the story. Many of us will bear witness to his friendship, to his infectious enthusiasm to be a ‘do-er’, not just a talker. He had an ability to co-opt a mixed bag of people to get a job done and many of us share deep friendships together because Ben was the original connecting point.
He didn’t see himself as a leader, but he was. He had an ability to gather people around him that grew to share the same vision, and get them involved to do the things he couldn’t do alone. It wasn’t about Ben, it was always about making a practical difference on the ground.
He remained driven by his no nonsense proactive faith in Christ, which had become the hub of his turning world. He didn’t over complicate it and he was more aware than anyone of his own rough edges. But the transformation he’d experienced in his own life was for real and he wanted others to know and experience that too. Often at the end of the Toy Run, or a press interview Ben would emotionally say, ‘Thank God for Bikers’. The biking community, for him, was his tribe. That community respected Ben just for him being uniquely him and responded to his call to get involved.
We are sad, and we are heartbroken at the loss of a friend and brother. We pray for Jane and their family in these days and we also pause, and say thanks to God for Ben – for all the aspects of his character that have coloured and enriched our lives. For that, we shall always be grateful.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Ben Spiller 1957 - 2021
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”