St Ralph Sherwin  

St Ralph Sherwin was born in Rodsley, Derbyshire, in 1550. He was educated at Eton College from 1563 to 1567 and was then a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.

He crossed to France on the pretext of studying medicine, but made for the English College at Douai, where he was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Cambrai on 23rd March 1577. He left France for the English College in Rome, where he stayed for nearly three years.

From Rome, he returned to London to minister to Catholic converts but was arrested in 1580 for the crime of priesthood. Queen Elizabeth I offered to make him a bishop if he would renounce the Catholic Church, but he refused. He endured torture, including the rack, before being charged with high treason for promoting Catholicism and sentenced to death.

Saints Ralph Sherwin, Edmund Campion SJ and Alexander Briant were executed in succession at Tyburn, London, on 1st December 1581.

They were among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who were canonised at St Peter’s, Rome, on 25th October 1970. His individual feast day is celebrated on 1st December, the day of his martyrdom.

The St Ralph Sherwin Wheel

The St Ralph Sherwin Wheel symbolises for our Trust how we are coming together as one community to secure and develop Catholic education for the future in our part of the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham. Sr Susan, Sean’s former school chaplain while he was headteacher at St Mary’s High School in Chesterfield and now Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Hallam, came up with the idea of the wheel, with each of its parts having a specific meaning

  • The hub – represents our central CMAT team, now based at St Katherine’s in Derby and St Margaret’s in Glossop
  • The spokes – represent each of the schools radiating out from the centre of the Trust to serve over 8000 children
  • The rim – represents the communities we serve across five Local Authorities
  • The materials woven between the spokes – represent the huge range of differing talents we have in our staff, who then use those talents in their own schools as well as supporting other schools across the Trust.

Our wheel was created on 16th March 2018 as part of our Visioning Day, when our headteachers and Chairs of Governors from across the Trust were invited to share their ideas about the future of the Trust. This was six months before the Trust formally started in September. When our Trust Board met for the first time in June that year, the output from the Visioning Day was used to inform our first Strategic Plan for the Trust, issued in July, so that before schools broke up for the summer holiday everyone was clear about the direction we would be taking from 1st September 2018.

From 1st September 2018 the wheel took pride of place on the wall in our CEO Sean McClafferty’s office at St Margaret’s then, in November, at our first St Ralph Sherwin Feast Celebration, the wheel made an appearance on stage. At that event, with around 800 staff and governors present, many saw the wheel for the first time and heard the story of how it came to be created. The wheel is currently making a journey from school to school across the Trust.

Our wheel completed its journey in time to return to our Feast Day celebration in December 2019, when we gathered once more as one community, committed to doing the best for the children and young people in our schools now and for those who will follow in future.

Jacqueline Rodden

St Ralph Sherwin Trust Board Chair