Minster stalwart to celebrate MBE with an ode to the Queen on beloved organ

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DR Richard Shephard will be celebrating his MBE tonight in customary style – playing the organ to an audience of hundreds at his beloved York Minster.

Dr Shephard, chamberlain and director of development at the Minster who is receiving his award for services to music and education, will be taking part in an orchestral concert to mark the passing of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The 62-year-old has worked at the Minster for nearly three decades and says he can think of no better place to mark receiving the gong, an accolade he describes as “astonishing”.

“I have been at York Minster for 28 years, and for 19 years was headmaster of the school,” said Dr Shephard, who studied music at Cambridge University and was director of music and deputy head of Salisbury Cathedral School before moving to York.

“It is an extreme privilege to work here – it is one of those things you never get used to really.

“I consider myself very lucky to be able to work in such an extraordinary building.”

In 2004, Dr Shephard was appointed to his current role with responsibility for raising funds for the upkeep of the building. An estimated £23m has been raised on behalf of the Minster during that time, something he recognises is a staggering amount.

The task of maintaining the building, which was built in its current form in the 12th century, is something Dr Shephard likens to Yorkshire’s equivalent of the never-ending painting of the Forth Bridge.

“It is one of those things that just keeps going,” he said.

“But it is the people of York and Yorkshire and further afield who have really made all of this possible.”

Dr Shephard has been credited as a driving force behind outreach and partnership working that has benefited many thousands of children and young people throughout the North and beyond.

He helped establish the department’s choir schools scholarship scheme in the 1990s and was chairman and then treasurer of the National Choir Schools’ Association.

Dr Shephard was one of the first to introduce an outstanding girls’ choir at the Minster School.

He also regularly assists with local music groups, and in 2000 composed the score for the Millennium Mystery Plays.