The Most Reverend Trevor Huddleston CR, KCMG

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Ernest Urban Trevor Huddleston

Birthdate: (85)
Death: 1998 (85)
Immediate Family:

Son of Ernest Whiteside Huddleston and Elsie Barlow Smith

Managed by: Private User
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About The Most Reverend Trevor Huddleston CR, KCMG

Ernest Urban Trevor Huddleston CR, KCMG (15 June 1913 – 20 April 1998) was an English Anglican bishop. He was best known for his anti-apartheid activism and his "Prayer for Africa". He was the second Archbishop of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean. He was a socialist. He never married.

Early life

Huddleston was born in Bedford, England, and educated at Lancing College (1927–1931), Christ Church, Oxford, and at Wells Theological College. He joined an Anglican religious order, the Community of the Resurrection (CR), in 1939, taking vows in 1941, having already served for over two years as a curate at St Mark's Swindon.

South Africa

In 1943, Huddleston went to the CR mission station at Rosettenville, Sophiatown (Johannesburg, South Africa). He was sent there to build on the work of Raymond Raynes CR, whose monumental efforts there had proved to be so demanding that the community summoned him back to Mirfield in order to recuperate. Raynes was deeply concerned about who should be appointed to succeed him. He met Huddleston (at that stage still a novice in the community) who had been appointed to nurse him while he was in the infirmary. As a result of that meeting, much to Huddleston's surprise, Raynes was convinced that he had found his successor.

Over the course of the next 13 years in Sophiatown, Huddleston developed into a much-loved priest and respected anti-apartheid activist, earning him the nickname Makhalipile ("dauntless one"). He fought against the apartheid laws and in 1955 the ANC bestowed the rare Isitwalandwe award of honour on him at the famous Freedom Congress in Kliptown. Among other work, he established the African Children's Feeding Scheme (which still exists today) and raised money for the Orlando Swimming Pools - the only place black children could swim in Johannesburg (until after 1994).

Return to England, Tanzania and Mauritius

Huddleston's order asked him to return to England in 1956, due the controversy he was attracting in speaking out against apartheid. He published his seminal work, Naught for your Comfort, and began work as the master of novices at CR's Mirfield mother house in West Yorkshire for two years, and then Prior of the Order's branch priory in London where he remained until his election as a bishop. He was consecrated Bishop of Masasi (Tanzania) in 1960, where he worked for eight years before becoming Bishop of Stepney (a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of London).

In 1974 he was questioned by the police in connection with complaints of alleged sexual abuse made by the parents of a number of boys. He said "I have never done anything to harm a child ... Neither do I consider it indecent to pat a child on the bottom or pinch him ... The boys are telling the truth but the implications of indecency are completely absurd." The police report recommended charging him with four counts of gross indecency, but because of his high profile, the matter was referred to the director of public prosecutions, Sir Norman Skelton. Skelton decided not to charge him after consulting Labour party figures, and the existence of the investigation and report was kept secret until 2004.

In his biography 'Trevor Huddleston: Turbulent Priest' Piers McGrandle quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop George Ellison dismissing the claims as a plot by the South African secret service B.O.S.S. to discredit a prominent opponent of Apartheid.

Tutu, who as a little boy knew Huddleston and swears to his innocence, was particularly affronted by the suggestion that Huddleston was anything other than a protector of children. On 1 February 1995 he wrote a lengthy letter saying any suggestion of Trevor's criminality was outrageous and adding that he could easily gather together a dozen black friends of Huddleston's acquaintance who would testify to the man's innocence.

On February 14th 1995 the Archbishop of Cape Town wrote: 'He [Huddleston] was an enormous thorn in the side of the apartheid regime and was effectively the real spokesman for the anti-apartheid movement for a considerable period. No one did more to keep apartheid on the world's agenda than he and therefore it would have been a devastating victory for the forces of evil and darkness had he been discredited,' adding: 'How ghastly to want to besmirch such a remarkable man, so holy and so good. How utterly despicable and awful.'

Bishop George Ellison, the Bishop of London when Trevor was Bishop of Stepney also said that political enemies of Huddleston were involved.

Ellison said: 'I want to make it absolutely clear that I have seen no evidence that Bishop Trevor was ever guilty of a criminal act. He undoubtedly had many enemies in South Africa and England who wanted to denigrate him, indeed, to destroy him.' Ellison was also clear that neither he, nor his legal advisers, believed anyone had the right to impede justice if there was any real evidence of guilt.

After 10 years in England, he was appointed (in 1978) as the Bishop of Mauritius, a diocese of the Province of the Indian Ocean. Later in the same year was elected the Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean. In 1984, Huddleston was succeeded by the Rt. Revd. Rex Donat as Bishop of Mauritius.

After retirement

After his retirement from episcopal office in 1983, Huddleston started anti-apartheid work outside of South Africa, having become President of the Anti-apartheid movement in 1981.

In 1994 he received honours from Tanzania (Torch of Kilimanjaro) and was awarded the Indira Gandhi Award for Peace, Disarmament and Development. In the 1998 New Year Honours he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) by the Labour government.

Death and legacy

Huddleston died at Mirfield, West Yorkshire, England, in 1998. A window in memory of him is in Lancing College chapel and was visited by Desmond Tutu. They had become friends when Huddleston visited a young Tutu in hospital when he was ill with TB. They later worked together opposing apartheid. The Huddleston Centre in Hackney has been delivering youth provision to disabled young people living in Hackney for over 30 years, and continues to do so. The centre bears Huddleston's name after he intervened to ensure that part of a church building was converted to provide an accessible nursery, play (and latterly youth club) space for disabled young people in Hackney, regardless of their faith. The Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre in Sophiatown was established in 1999 following Huddleston's death and the interment of his ashes in the garden of Christ the King Church in Sophiatown where he had served for 13 years. The centre delivers youth development programmes as well as heritage and cultural projects promoting Huddleston's passion for young people and his commitment to non-racialism, multi-faith issues and social justice.

Prayer for Africa

Naught for Your Comfort

Huddleston wrote Naught for Your Comfort. The book was significantly important as it discussed the abuse of black people by US-American authorities.

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The Most Reverend Trevor Huddleston CR, KCMG's Timeline

Age 85