Pope honours Dr David Chappell for his work with St Austin’s Catholic Church, in Wakefield and the Leeds Catholic Diocese.

David Chappell has recieved the Bene Merenti from the Pope for his services to St Austins Church and academic work on churches of the diocese.
David Chappell has recieved the Bene Merenti from the Pope for his services to St Austins Church and academic work on churches of the diocese.
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THE pope has awarded a medal to a volunteer who has helped preserve church buildings for more than 40 years.

David Chappell received the Bene Merenti medal from Rome for his work with St Austin’s Catholic Church and the Leeds Catholic Diocese.

Dr Chappell, of College Grove, was on the diocese Art and Architecture committee in the 1970s, when he wrote his PHD thesis about church buildings in Yorkshire’s West Riding - a document still used today.

An architect, he has advised on the preservation and restoration of church buildings ever since.

Dr Chappell, 77, received the award at a mass at St Austin’s, on Wentworth Terrace, on November 10.

He said “It is a great honour and I’m very grateful to be awarded it. I was quite shocked when I found out I was going to get this medal. It really wasn’t something I expected.”

Diocesan archivist Tim Finnegan told the service: “I do not exaggerate when I say that much if not most of what we know about the architectural history of the diocese we owe to the work that David did all those years ago.”

He said Dr Chappell also took a leading role surveying churches in the diocese to ensure repairs were carried out properly over the years.

Father Tim Swinglehurst, parish priest at St Austin’s, said: “We are delighted David has been awarded this medal for everything he has done for the church building, for preserving it over many years, and but also his work in the wider diocese.”