How a Mirfield priest became a mentor to Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Most reports of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu fail to mention the influence on his life of the Yorkshire priest Trevor Huddleston, of the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield.

Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 5:00 pm
Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Michael McGowan, former Labour MEP for Leeds

Trevor worked in South Africa in the late 1940s when he met Desmond Tutu as a young boy.

A celebrated and much reported incident took place when a white priest raised his hat to a black domestic servant whose little son was incredulous.

The white priest was Trevor Huddleston and the little boy was Desmond Tutu.

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I first became aware of the brutalities of apartheid when Trevor spoke to my class at Heckmondwike Grammar School, which is only a few miles from the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield.

Since his return from South Africa, he had published "Naught for your comfort" and I was impressed that this renowned priest was listed in "Who's Who" as a member of Mirfield Working Men's Club.

When I visited South Africa in 1985 as an MEP it was Trevor who gave me a note of introduction to meet Desmond Tutu, who was then based at Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg.

Tutu developed close links with many parts of Yorkshire besides his visits to Mirfield and several year ago he addressed a rally at the Valley Parade football stadium in Bradford.

In Leeds we organised an 80th birthday party for Trevor at Leeds Civic Hall and when he died held a memorial service for him at St Aiden's Church in Harehills.

Today, the community in Mirfield continues its links with Africa with the work of Father Nicolas Stebbings in support of deprived young people in Zimbabwe.

Trevor, of the Community of the Resurrection, was a massive influence on Desmond Tutu.