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Obituary: Lord Sheppard
The Right Reverend Lord Sheppard
Lord Sheppard: The battling bishop
The Right Reverend Lord Sheppard, who died on Saturday night after a long battle with cancer, was an English cricketer who became one of the Church of England's most outspoken bishops.

One of the great post-war batsmen, he was equally dynamic in his campaigns for better housing and conditions, particularly in Liverpool where he was Bishop from 1975. He was also a long-time opponent of apartheid in South Africa.

The son of a solicitor, the young David Sheppard attended school at Sherborne School in Dorset, but spent much of his childhood in Sussex, where he first took up his county bat at the age of 18.

David Sheppard
1950: Made debut for England
1955: Enters the clergy
1963: Ends England career after 22 Tests and 1,172 runs
1975: Becomes youngest-ever diocesan bishop
1998: Receives life peerage

He led the county team in 1953 and won 22 England caps between 1950 and 1963. He toured Australia twice, and made 45 first-class centuries.

Lord Sheppard had intended to be a barrister, but while at Cambridge University decided to go into the Church, and he was ordained in 1955.

After a curacy at Islington, he became the first warden of the Mayflower Family Centre at Canning Town in London, and stayed there 11 years until his appointment as Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich.

At the age of 46, he became the youngest ever diocesan bishop when he moved to Liverpool.

Sheppard the cricketer
Sheppard played cricket 22 times for England

Lord Sheppard never sought to avoid controversy. Protesting against apartheid as a cricketer, he refused to play against the South African team in 1960, and opposed the sending of a team to that country in 1968.

The outspoken bishop later called for a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

He was equally critical of the British Government during the 1980s, and accused even Liverpool's own city council, led by Derek Hatton, of militancy.

Championed the poor

In a partnership the Times called the "Catholic-Protestant double-act", Lord Sheppard and the late Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Worlock, fought for a better city.

They worked to create jobs, improve housing and break down sectarian barriers.

Lord Sheppard thought the Church of England, with its very respectable image, had failed both poor and black people.

Monsignor Derek Worlock
Lord Sheppard worked well with Archbishop Worlock

In a controversial Dimbleby television lecture in 1984, he called for economic change, inciting rich Britain to "recognise its responsibility to the other Britain".

The bishop's huge efforts to bring about religious reconciliation were rewarded in 1982. Two months after militant Protestants had jeered and booed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Sheppard greeted Pope John Paul II at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.

With Archbishop Worlock, Lord Sheppard continued his work abroad. After the Brussels football stadium disaster of 1985, when many Juventus fans died, the two went to Turin with an all-party delegation to repair Anglo-Italian relations.

Later that year, he became the first Anglican bishop to address the Roman Catholic national conference of priests.

He incited British criticism in 1983 after a trip to Argentina, by saying that both sides had a case over the Falkland Islands. He reported that the Argentines felt Britain had reacted with unnecessary force.

But his sympathy with the British working people was never in doubt. In 1979, he would take only half the annual pay increase awarded to bishops, as this was in line with the Government limit.

Lord Sheppard was a man who would say what he felt, regardless of the consequences. After his retirement in 1997, he continued to battle for the rights of others with the unfailing energy of a first-class sportsman.

In January 1998 he received a life peerage.

Throughout his dual careers, Lord Sheppard was an outspoken gentleman who remained unafraid of his opponents, both on and off the pitch.

See archive footage of Lord Sheppard playing cricket

Graveney leads Sheppard tributes
06 Mar 05 |  Cricket
Ex-bishop battles cancer
02 Dec 03 |  Merseyside
Sheppard accepts Hove post
12 Apr 01 |  Cricket

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