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TREVOR HUDDLESTON, BEDFORD'S FORGOTTEN HERO The year is 2013, and to many the 1913-1998 Bedford-born Anglican Bishop Trevor Huddleston exists as a seemingly forgotten face in Bedford's expansive history, the story behind Silver Street's memorial bust being forgotten to many Bedfordians, myself included. However, I recently found that in my ignorance I had failed to realise and appreciate the true extent of Huddleston's selfless incorruptibility and his unprecedented contribution to South Africa and its peoples during the volatile apartheid era. He lived as a humble and grounded man that understood and loved the South African community, eventually gaining the attention of, and working alongside equally influential figures such as the revolutionary anti-apartheid politician Nelson Mandela. Left: Silver Streets tribute memorial to Huddleston, inscribed, “No white person has done more for South Africa than Trevor Huddleston” - Nelson Mandela. In June 1913 Huddleston was born in Bedford and was later to be educated in Lancing College. He joined the Anglican religious order, The Community of the Resurrection (CR) in 1939, taking his vows and becoming a Bishop in 1941. Although being relatively inexperienced as a Bishop in his infancy, Huddleston was sent on mission by the CR to Sophiatown, a suburb of Johannesburg in South Africa. This was to be his home for an expansive total of 13 years, a time in which Huddleston was to become a much loved and revered member of Sophiatown's 70,000 inhabitants, even adopting the nickname Makhalipile, translating as “the dauntless one.” Sophiatown, also known as Sof'town or Kofiti, was a black cultural hub in South Africa that came under heavy oppression as a result of the apartheid. It was an area characterised not only by its vibrant black culture, music, politics, literature and art but also for its violence and dire poverty. Although being one of few white men in Below: Trevor Huddleston pictured a predominantly black town, Huddleston quickly established himself as with Sophiatown children . a highly respected, valued and widely loved member of a community that boasted a culture so different to that of Huddleston’s British origin. With great ease Huddleston was able to gain the trust of, and work progressively with the local people. He established the African Children’s Feeding scheme which continues to exist to this day whilst also raising money for the Orlando Swimming Pools, the only place black children were allowed to swim in Johannesburg until after 1994. Huddleston famously paved the way for Jazz legend Hugh Masekela’s musical career, giving him his first trumpet as a child at St Peter’s school and channelling his musical interest. Last, but most definitely not least, Huddleston fought alongside others such as Nelson Mandela, Helen Joseph and Ruth First to resist and oppose oppressive products of the apartheid such as the Immorality Amendment Act No. 21. The law prevented people of mixed races from residing together, allowing the government to segregate whites from blacks. As a result the inhabitants of Sophiatown were set to be forcefully moved to a location situated at a greater distance to neighbouring white communities. Huddleston played a vital role and was paramount to the resistance to the Sophiatown removal schemes. After a lifetime of activism, selfless contribution and giving, Trevor Huddleston was to die in 1998 aged 84. He was a true inspiration and a modern hero, a figure of hope for those who had little. My only hope is that his memory lives on and that his good deeds go unforgotten. Right: Huddleston pictured with Desmond Tutu in the 1988 Nelson Mandela freedom march



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