Mike de Villiers, who has worked on youth engagement in the Bradford area for many years, and is a member of the Bradford Cathedral Eco Group alongside many other roles, is one of eight people from across our Diocese of Leeds who have been recipients of royal Maundy gifts this year.
These individuals – who have served their churches and areas faithfully for many years – have been nominated from within the diocese.
Mike de Villiers was amazed to receive a letter from Buckingham Palace inviting him to be a Maundy Recipient in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on Thursday 14th April 2022. This year the recipients have been chosen from across the UK and the precise number is equal to The Queen’s age, there will be 96 men and 96 women. Each recipient is invited to bring a companion with them so his wife, Elaine de Villiers, will be sitting with him during the service. After the service, recipients and companions are invited to a Reception in Windsor Castle.
Having grown up in South Africa, Mike has lived and worked in Bradford since 1967 where, as a teacher for 42 years, he has been involved in various voluntary roles. He received an award for long-standing service to the Geographical Association and has been active in community tree planting and raising awareness of Fairtrade.
In Manningham he built up a youth forum, Manningham Youth Talks, where young people of different backgrounds could discuss and learn about each other. He has been active with tree planting projects for over 40 years, involving others in planting over 13,000 trees.
As an active member of Bradford Cathedral Eco Group as well as part of the Education Team, Mike continues to develop projects to involve people in learning about and caring for their environment. He also cycles to meetings as well as riding with Bolton Road Community Cycle Club led by Satwant Singh.
His ’two sentences of information’ for The Queen read:
“Having served in Bradford for 55 years as a teacher and in retirement, I have worked with young people and people of different faiths to create community and build confidence. At Lower Fields and Bradford Grammar schools, and at Bradford Cathedral, I’ve brought many people together through tree planting and campaigning for fair trade.”
“It is a great honour and I’m sure there are many, many people just as and more ‘worthy’ than I am, but I feel that I will receive this on behalf of all those with whom I’ve worked in different communities. In Bradford many good things happen!”
For more information about the others who have received this honour, please visit the Diocese of Leeds website.
You can also find out more about Maundy Money in our explainer video below.