The statue of Trevor Huddleston, which was visited by Nelson Mandela in 2000, has been temporarily removed during the High Street improvement works.
The bust was carefully removed by a specialist contractor, and will be stored safely until it returns to take pride of place in Silver Square once the refurbishment works are complete.
Construction work to widen the High Street’s pavements, limit traffic to one lane and increase the number of short-term parking bays will begin in February.
Trevor Huddleston (1913-1998) was born in Bedford but left while still an infant. He went on to become an Anglican priest who spent most of his life serving poor people on the African continent.
His work in black South African townships brought about his commitment to human rights and anti-apartheid activism, which led to South Africa’ s first black President, Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) claiming that “No white person has done more for South Africa than Trevor Huddleston”, which is inscribed in the plinth of this head and shoulder’s bust.
He went on to become a bishop and finally Archbishop of the Indian Ocean. He was knighted in the last year of his life.
On 7 April 2000 the retired Nelson Mandela, then an old man, visited Bedford to re-dedicate the Trevor Huddleston memorial bust, which had first been unveiled on 30 October 1999 by the Bishop of St Albans.