Between the warrior and the monk (ii): Fr Trevor Huddleston

[ by Charles Cameron — a warrior, a monk, and where that leaves me ]

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In the first part of this post I introduced you to my father, Captain OG Cameron DSC, RN, the man who fueled my keen interest in gallantry and the martial side of things. The other great influence in my early life was Fr. Trevor Huddleston CR, pictured below:

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Trevor Huddleston CR:

Archbishop the Most Reverend Sir Ernest Urban Trevor Huddleston CR, KCMG – it’s hard even to know how to string his titles together, this monk, priest, schoolteacher, activist, archbishop, finally knighted by Her Majesty towards the end of his long and eventful life was the man who became a second father, guardian, mentor and spiritual guide to me shortly after my father died when I was nine.

That’s the man as I knew him, Father Trevor — simple, caring, intelligent, perhaps a little austere even — in the middle image above.

Austerity, simplicity: two more words to set beside gallantry in the lexicon of admiration and gratitude.

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Satchmo:

To the left in the same image, he’s shown with Louis Armstrong — Satchmo — who has just presented him with a trumpet.

The story goes like this: as a monk in an Anglican monastic order, the Community of the Resurrection popularly known as the Mirfield Fathers, Father Trevor was sent to South Africa while still a young man, and worked in Sophiatown, just outside Johannesberg, as a priest and teacher.

A young black kid in one of his classes, Hugh, aged 12 or 13, fell ill and was taken to hospital, where Trevor Huddleston visited him. Trevor asked him what he would like more than anything in this world, what would so thrill and please him that he would have the greatest possible motive for getting better, getting out of the hospital and back to school. Hugh said, “a trumpet, Father” — so Trevor got hold of a trumpet which he then presented to the boy: now known the world over as the great jazz trumpeter, Hugh Masekela.

That wasn’t quite enough, though. A year or three later, Trevor was in the United States, and met Satchmo, who asked if there was anything he could do to help… Trevor told Satchmo he’d started a jazz band for the kids in his school, and knew a boy who would just love a trumpet…

Trevor was a hard man to refuse.

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Hugh Masekela:

Here’s Hugh Masekela, just a little older, with the trumpet Trevor brought him from Louis Armstrong:

And here’s the sound…

When I was maybe 15, and Trevor had returned from South Africa to England, he gave me a 7″ “45” record of the Huddleston Jazz Band — now long lost. Imagine my amazed delight to be able to hear that sound again, fifty years later, through the good graces of the internet —

Hugh Masekela and the Huddleston Jazz Band play Ndenzeni na?

YouTube video

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Desmond Tutu:

Another story I like to tell about Trevor and his time in South Africa has to do with a lady…

It seems this young black kid aged about 8 or 9 was sitting with his mother on the “stoop” outside his house in a South African shanty-town when a white priest walked by and doffed his hat to the boy’s mother.

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