A long, long time ago, in the legendary Wycliffe CE Middle School in Shipley, there was a big, beardy teacher of children. In those far off days, teachers did teach children how to read, write and do arithmetic, and knew that those words don’t all begin with the same letter, but they also knew how to play games like football and how to create beautiful music.

So it was in the 1980s, the decade of big hair and Graham Kendrick, that Mr Froud discovered the joy of seeing children in lots of different schools, enjoying the music that he and “The Band With No Name” (should have copyrighted that name!) played for them at Christmas and at the end of the year in July. He saw that it was good and he noted that the children listened.

Of course, music wasn’t as important as subjects like English, Maths and Science and Mr Froud was told to concentrate on those, but by the 1990s he knew there was something else he must do… but how?

His wife, Sheena, and both of their children, Alex and Cath, knew what he must do… but how?

And God knew there was something else that the Hairy Man ought to do and he wanted to tell him… but how? Mr Froud wasn’t very good at listening…

One day as he was driving South down the A1 through North Yorkshire – which must be one of the dullest roads in England- God spoke, and this time the Beardy Man was listening. There was not much to occupy his brain. The road was straight, flat and grey; the weather was grey; and the light came on.

“What you need is a sabbatical to test the idea of leaving teaching to work in schools.”

“Genius!” said the Hairy One, probably out loud. “God, you are clever.” Slightly embarrassed to have only just realised that God does know what He’s doing, he listened more to The Plan: speak to your headteacher, speak to your minister, speak to teachers in other schools – and listen!

And so on 28 February, 1994, the Zephaniah Music Trust was legally established as registered charity 1036478. That summer Mr Froud left his teaching job at the world famous Wycliffe CE Middle to begin his new work.

Many stories have been written and told; many songs have been borrowed or written and sung in these last 20 years; many people enlisted to help as volunteers, work experience and placement students, and salaried staff, all to help take “Light into dark corners.”

And why “Zephaniah?”

Zephaniah 3:17 (in the Bible) says “The Lord your God…will sing.” Listen.

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