Tributes were paid to Dr David Neville, Headmaster of St John’s College, Cardiff, by Archbishop George Stack and Canon Peter Collins on Dr Neville being created a Papal Knight.
In 1987 David was appointed Head to regenerate the closed De La Salle school (age 3-11) and to create St John’s College from a pupil base of 85 pupils. He has done this spectacularly well – St John’s College is now a vibrant highly successful school of 500 pupils age 3 – 18 in a new setting, a fine listed building with superb modern facilities.
St John’s College has consistently held leading rank positions in tables published by the national press, of GCSE and A level results, and was listed again this year as the top performing school in Wales in The Sunday Times‘Parent Power’. University admission achievements have been particularly distinguished, and the Estyn inspection report gave St John’s College the seldom awarded ‘Excellent’ for the school’s teaching, as well as current performance, prospects for future improvement, outcomes, provision, and leadership and management.
The school provides the entire range of highly trained musicians for the Cathedral. For thirty-five years David has held the honorary position of Director of Music and Organist at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St David in the centre of the City of Cardiff. During this time, the choir established its annual concert series at St David’s Hall, was broadcast on television and radio, and released recordings on LP, CD and DVD. Particular highlights include receiving a standing ovation from over 2000 at Notre Dame Cathedral Paris in 1991, an award at the 1994 International Choral Competition at the cathedral of Amiens, and performances in Denmark, Belgium and at St George’s Windsor Castle.
A significant number of choristers, having received training in the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir, went on to obtain Oxbridge choral scholarships, and highly successful careers in the world of professional music, medicine, computer science, the Foreign Office, broadcasting, education, and so forth. David received the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1991 and the Anglican Archbishop of Wales Award for his distinguished contribution to Church Music in 1997, chaired by famous Cambridge choral director the late Dr George Guest CBE.
Canon Peter Collins, Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral, announced: “On behalf of the Cathedral Community I extend our warmest congratulations to Dr David Neville KSG upon receiving a Papal Knighthood within the Order of St Gregory from His Holiness Pope Francis. The honour has been bestowed in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the life of the Archdiocese over the past thirty-five years through his role as Director of Music and Organist at this Metropolitan Cathedral Church of Saint David. As founder Principal of St John’s College, designated as the Cathedral Choir School, Dr Neville has created a structure of musical provision for the Cathedral that is the envy of my fellow Cathedral Deans.”
David was himself a chorister in 1959 when the Cathedral was reopened after the bomb damage of the Second World War. The tradition continues with Dominic as Master of Choristers and James as a counter tenor lead in the choir. Canon Peter added “The name of Neville is musically embedded in the fabric of this Cathedral”
In the Papal Bull, Pope Francis says:
“You are the most deserving of what you have done for the Holy Catholic Church and its affairs, and in order that We might give a clear sign of Our pleasure and appreciation, We choose, make and declare you, David Neville, of the Diocese of Cardiff, Knight of the Order of St Gregory.”