Community stalwart Tony Shepherd is being awarded an MBE in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the Harrogate district.
Serving the town for more than 27 years as the Canon at St Peter’s Church, Tony spearheaded a major fundraising campaign to restore and develop the church’s facilities.
Together with his wife Ann and the team at St Peter’s - who he continually inspired with his vision and boundless energy, Tony helped to rejuvenate the congregation, with attendance soaring across all age groups.
A staggering £2m was raised by Tony and the community for the church’s expansion, which was completed in 2013.
A much-loved familiar face across the district, Tony has continued to make an impact since his retirement to Summerbridge in 2015 - serving churches across Nidderdale, and continuing to fuel his passion for social justice by supporting local charities and causes.
Tony is dedicating his MBE to everyone at St Peter’s, his wife and his family, to honour their significant roles in transforming the church.
Tony said: “It is a lovely, delightful surprise. When we first went to the church in 1987, it was in quite a bad way, and at a low ebb. Not many people came to church.
“We helped to build it up again, but so many people played their part in that. The congregation has really grown.
“The church is in such a good location to help the town in all sorts of ways as the civic church of Harrogate. It’s in a good position to help the homeless, and we tried to help people whatever their need was.
“The honour is an honour for everyone - for everyone at St Peter’s, and especially my wife Ann who did so much for the church.”
As well as being at the helm of St Peter’s for almost three decades, Tony has served as the chair of governors at St Peter’s Primary School, a member of the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, a trustee of Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service, a Canon of Ripon Cathedral, a member of the Local Strategic Partnership executive, and has been heavily involved with a whole range of charities in the town - among a plethora of other strings to his bow.
Tony was ordained a deacon after leaving Westcott House in Cambridge in 1974 and served his curacy in Folkestone, before coming to Ripon in 1979 as the Bishop’s Chaplain and Diocesan Communications Officer from 1979 to 1987.
During his time at St Peter’s, Tony and his family got to know hundreds of people, and now during his retirement, Tony said the fond memories of their time there will stay with them forever.
He said: “I miss the people, everyone at the church did so much for the town. It has been fantastic to see the church grow as it has and we do miss it.”