Special Service marking the Centenary of Gresham’s Very Own ‘Saint’
1 July 2021
A special service was held in Chapel to celebrate the life of OG John Bradburne (F 1934 – 39) who was born one hundred years ago on the 14th June. The service was attended by Bradburne’s niece Teresa and the boys from Tallis and Woodlands.
John Bradburne was known to many as ‘God’s vagabond’. He not only looked like Jesus – with his long hair and beard – but he also acted like him too giving his life for others.
John became Warden of Mutemwa Leper Colony in what was then Rhodesia in 1969. He found the colony in a terrible state. It was home to eighty cruelly maimed people who had been rejected by their families and communities. Even within the colony they were treated poorly – forced to bags over their heads when an able-bodied visitor arrived. Bradburne quickly changed all of this however. Where others had rejected them Bradbourne embraced them with dignity, respect and love. He lived, prayed, ate and drank with them. He educated them, cared for them medically, and even built them a small church.
Sadly in 1979 however, Bradburne was caught up in the country’s Civil War. Guerrilla fighters mistook him for an informer. His friends told him to flee but Bradburne refused to abandon those he cared for. After being subjected to torture, and a rigged trial, Bradburne was eventually killed.
Bradburne is now remembered for his kindness and bravery all over the world. There is currently a campaign to see him beatified in the Roman Catholic Church.
Bradburne was also a wonderful poet. Our very own Headmaster recorded a reading of one of his poems to mark the centenary alongside many other notable individuals such as: Sir James McMillian; Archbishop Rowan Williams; Cardinal Vincent Nichols; Gyles Brandreth; Richard E Grant and many more. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcGjYYMDHb4vQStf63_PKDg
(Photo © John Bradburne Memorial Society)