Papal knighthood for businessman who saved school

Mr Baron (second from left) after being awarded with the papal knighthood with (from left to right) his son Leo, the Bishop of Salford, his wife Jean, his daughters Katrina and Gemma  and his granddaughter Isabelle.
Mr Baron (second from left) after being awarded with the papal knighthood with (from left to right) his son Leo, the Bishop of Salford, his wife Jean, his daughters Katrina and Gemma and his granddaughter Isabelle.
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A man, who stepped in to save a Ribble Valley school when it was threatened with closure, has been granted the highest honour available from the Catholic church.

Tony Baron has been appointed as a Knight of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great, which is the highest accolade that can be given to an individual by the Catholic church.

The managing director and chairman of the governors at Whalley's Oakhill School and Nursery, Mr Baron was awarded the papal knighthood at a special investiture ceremony at the school.

The Bishop of Salford the Rt Rev John Arnold led a special mass with mass with 400 guests, parishioners, parents and pupils.

Mr Baron was regaled in a fine green jacket, black hat with feathers, a short sword with a handle made of

mother of pearl with a medallion of the order and an eight-pointed cross, the insignia of the

Order.

The Knight of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great is one of the five pontifical orders of the Holy See in the Catholic Church. The order is bestowed on Roman Catholic men and women in recognition of their service to the Church, the Holy See, and acknowledges exceptional endeavours and the good example they set in their communities and country.

Pope Gregory XVI formed The Papal Order of Saint Gregory in 1831 with four classes of which a

Knight is one.

The Pontifical Order recognizes Mr Baron’s work at Oakhill School and Nursery, formerly known as Oakhill College, which was formed in 1978.

When it was under threat of closure in the 1990s, Mr Baron stepped in to save it.

Mr Baron enjoyed a flourishing career owning and running a group of petrol stations across Preston and the Fylde Coast.

On selling this business he anticipated a quiet retirement but then found himself at the forefront of the campaign to save Oakhill.