The retired former Vicar of St Peter’s Church, Harrogate, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The Revd Canon Tony Shepherd has been awarded the MBE ‘for services to the Church and the community in Harrogate, North Yorkshire’.
“I was very surprised, but delighted, to have been given an MBE”, said Tony. “It reflects not just my long ministry to church and town in Harrogate, but the hard and imaginative work of so many people who focused on the town centre and helped to make St Peter's genuinely inclusive at the heart of the town.”
Tony retired in 2015 after 27 years as Vicar of St Peter’s church in the town centre. In that time, St Peter’s an iconic landmark in the centre of Harrogate was transformed from a blackened, decaying, rubbish filled church building, threatened with demolition to make way for more shops and tiny congregation, to a thriving town centre church with glass fronted entrances, new meeting rooms and one of the largest congregations in the diocese.
He and his wife Anne and family came to Yorkshire in 1979 as Chaplain to the Bishop of Ripon and Diocesan Communications Officer. He was ordained a deacon after leaving Westcott House in Cambridge in 1974 and served his curacy in Folkestone.
Tony and Ann with their children Judy and David moved to Harrogate in the autumn of 1987 when he became Vicar of St Peter’s and over the years the church has developed and grown.
During that time, Tony was for many years chaplain to the Mayor of Harrogate, Chair of the Ripon and Leeds House of Clergy, an honorary canon at Ripon Cathedral and an Honorary Chaplain to the Queen.
The former Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd James Bell paid tribute to Tony’s ministry at the time saying, "Tony's remarkable ministry has resulted in the complete renewal of St. Peter's. It is now a vibrant church with several congregations and a hugely significant role at the heart of Harrogate.
“His gift of knowing and naming each person and releasing their own gifts for building up the church has generated the vision for the transformation of the building in service of God's mission. His contribution to the wider diocese not least as Chair of the House of Clergy and Canon of Ripon Cathedral has been significant for our sense of direction and confidence. Thank God for a good friend and great servant of the Church of England!"