Lt James Bryan Orchard was an unlikely missionary, all the more so because this soldier, whose brother was a Roman Catholic priest, was to become the first Muslim missionary in Britain.

Born in Torquay, he had a conventional upbringing before joining the Indian Army. In 1945, as a young second-lieutenant, he visited the village of Qadian. He was immensely impressed by the spiritual life of the people there. On inquiring, he found that this was the birthplace of Hazrat Mizra Chulam Ahmad, who had claimed in 1889 to be the mahdi, or messiah, for Muslims.

Lt Orchard, who had been in India since 1942, was a member of the Church of England. His brother was a Roman Catholic priest. But to the astonishment of his fellow officers, he began to take instruction in Islam.

On demob in 1946 he offered his services to the London branch of the Ahmadiyya movement: those who recognise Ahmad as the mahdi. A letter to the caliph, the spiritual leader of Ahmadiyya, confirmed his appointment as a missionary and he adopted the Muslim name, Bashir.

In 1949 he came to Glasgow for three years, then went to the West Indies, only to find himself back in Glasgow in 1966, where he stayed for the next 17 years. Preaching was a passion with him and he was a familiar figure at The Mound in Edinburgh and on the streets of Glasgow. In his spare time, he would sell used stamps and use the income for community needs.

A popular figure, his farewell party at the Central Hotel in 1983 was attended by Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus, as well as most of the Ahmadiyya community in Glasgow. He moved to continue working as a missionary, first in Oxford and later to London, where he edited the monthly Muslim Herald.

As well as being a prolific writer of books and articles, he also appeared on a Muslim TV channel, where he used to entertain children with magic onscreen between religious teachings.

Bashir Ahmad Orchard, missionary; born 1920,

died July 8, 2002.