A SCHOOL has paid tribute to an “inspirational” former pupil who has become the second most senior cleric in the Church of England.

The Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell was officially inducted as the Archbishop of York during a special confirmation of election service yesterday.

Archbishop Stephen, who was born and grew up in Leigh, succeeded Dr John Sentamu having previously held the position of Bishop of Chelmsford.

On the day of his induction, his former school – Belfairs Academy – offered its best wishes to him and said he was an example to students of what can be achieved with hard work.

Principal Bev Williams said: “We send our very vest wishes to Archbishop Stephen on his new ministry in the Church of England.

“Archbishop Stephen has been an important part of the Belfairs family over many years and has been a passionate supporter of the academy.

“His ministry in the church and his wise words have been a great inspiration to generations of Belfairs students.

“On many occasions, he led inspirational talks and took part in our annual shaping the future ceremonies in which he gave students heartfelt advice and guidance to help them advance and improve during their school careers.

“We are so excited that a former Belfairs student is now Archbishop of York – the second most senior cleric in the Church of England.

“Archbishop Stephen proves that anything is possible if you’re focussed, committed and passionate about achieving success.”

Mrs Williams also thanked him for his work with Legra Academy Trust, which runs Belfairs Academy.

She added: “In recent years, Archbishop Stephen has also served as a member of Legra Academy Trust, which is a key role taking an overview of the Trust’s performance. We send our grateful thanks to him for his service and send him our very best wishes as he takes up his new position.”

His induction service was streamed online to ensure it complied with social distancing guidelines.

Archbishop Stephen was able to keep up the tradition of knocking three times on the west door of York Minster with the Braganza crozier, his staff of office.

Archbishop Stephen is married to Rebecca and the couple have three sons.