A Digital Goodbye to the Dean of Hereford

Hereford Cathedral has bid a digital farewell to The Very Revd Michael Tavinor, Dean of Hereford, after 19 years of leadership and ministry. Before that he was a much loved and respected Vicar of Tewkesbury Abbey and Precentor of Ely Cathedral. Throughout his incredible ministry he has been a wonderful advocate of choral music and choir schools.

The Dean had originally planned to lead a series of farewell services on Sunday 31 January but, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, those plans were thwarted. Instead, the cathedral community and many around the county came together online on Sunday morning with a pre-recorded video service sharing memories of Michael’s time in Hereford. As well as messages of thanks from members of the cathedral community, the Archbishop of Canterbury sent his best wishes to the Dean via a special video message.

The Very Revd Michael Tavinor said: “It’s difficult for us all, parting at this really challenging time, but I think it’s important to look back together at all the good things of the last nineteen years. When we do so, we’ll recall events, projects, sadnesses and joys, and the cathedral community has been second to none in its faithfulness, encouragement, support and loving care throughout all of them.

“I shall never cease to be thankful for the friendship I have received from so many who have contributed to cathedral life, and have made my ministry as Dean so enjoyable and rewarding. I thank you all for your kindness and generosity. The cathedral and the city of Hereford will always have a special place in my heart and I shall be thinking of you and remembering you all in my prayers as you prepare for the next stage of your journey.  God bless you all.”

HCS says Farewell

Paul Smith, Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School writes: “It was with mixed feelings that we said goodbye to the Dean during Chapel on Monday. On the one hand, we wish Mr Dean all the very best as he starts a new chapter (no pun intended) with his retirement. However, we will miss him greatly.

He has been an avid supporter of our school, which has extended beyond matters concerning choristers, for which, of course, he has been a guiding light to so many. We owe a great debt to Michael Tavinor in so many different ways, including presiding over major events, leading us in worship, sharing his thoughts and reflections during chapels, supporting the Governing Body in their oversight of the School and supporting the heads from both junior and senior sections of the School. On a personal note, I am hugely indebted to Mr Dean for his wise counsel, good humour and friendship.”

After presiding over 19 HCS Speech Days and countless chapels, the Dean paid a final visit to the Old Deanery at the end of January to participate in a virtual chapel service. He spoke fondly of his association with HCS: “It’s been a wonderful joy for me to come in on a Monday morning and lead prayers. You have always been so receptive; there’s always a wonderful atmosphere – and that’s down to you, the students. I salute all the wonderful music and all the wonderful results… it’s been a real source of pride to me. Thank you for making my role as President of HCS so happy.”

Happy Memories from Tewkesbury

Jonathan Milton was headmaster of Tewkesbury Abbey Choir School during Michael’s ministry and says: “One had only to visit Hereford to feel a huge warmth of affection for him.  The cathedral glowed with warmth and prayer, and that is exactly what he engendered at Tewkesbury too.  

 He actively encouraged the still fragile relatively new choir school and ensured that it was carefully integrated into the parish as a whole. His support for church music has been unwavering and he instinctively has understood its essential role in cathedral worship.  As a talented pianist himself he appreciated music of real quality and always went out of his way to nurture it.  Indeed, rather like Walter Hussey of Chichester, his appreciation of the arts as a whole and their importance in the enhancement of worship has been a real feature of his ministry.”  

Gentle leadership and Pilgrimage

Michael’s gentle leadership of the Cathedral has played an instrumental role overseeing many developments to the cathedral buildings during his time in Hereford. These include the installation of the Thomas Traherne and Ascension stained glass windows, celebrating St Thomas Cantilupe and St Ethelbert with the restoration of two striking shrines, and the recent completion of the restored Eastern Cloisters, with their new attractions for visitors.

 As well as his own musical skill and love for the cathedral’s choral and organ music, Michael’s passion for pilgrimage has been shared widely throughout the community, and the warm welcome and hospitality that he has provided for all those who visit the cathedral will be sorely missed.

The celebration of the Dean’s farewell service is available to watch on the cathedral’s website (www.herefordcathedral.org/sunday-morning-worship-deans-final-service) or YouTube Channel.