Green, wet behind the ears – and on my way to Shipley…

I first met the Zephaniah family in 2008, in my first year in Saltmine Trust. I was green and wet behind the ears, and was told that our team would be going to Bradford to meet a group of people who all seemed to end in either “y” or “ie”. We piled into our van and bimbled up the motorway to Shipley, where we were warmly welcomed for a cup of tea by a hairy giant known as Froudy, and introduced to Drakey, Julie, and Helen…y.

The warm welcome wasn’t just for the cuppa, it seems, and we were instantly welcomed into the Zephaniah family. For the next week they treated us as their own as we combined to sing, perform and teach the gospel to the children of Bradford. I’ve been part of their extended family ever since (I think of myself as a slightly estranged cousin).

The fact that Zeph has kept going for such a long time is no surprise to me; their family atmosphere and friendly energy extends to everyone they meet and all the work they do. Every time I work with them I see their warmth, love and hospitality continues to open doors to new opportunities, and inspires me to follow their example.

Jon Buckeridge, actor extraordinaire, has a talent for drawing out the acting skills that children didn’t know they had, seen most recently by us in his work with Julie on Refugee Voices. He’s also pretty nifty with a guitar, the instigator (he claims) of the ‘Tea in the Shower’ revolution, and easily reaches Zephaniah Standard at mocking his colleagues. We like to think of him as our slightly strange cousin too.

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