The world of theatre and the church are united in grief following the death of long-serving artistic director Paul Burbridge.

Riding Lights of York announced that its co-founder who led the theatre compay for more than 40 years has died after a short illness. 

He also co-led the 2012 York Mystery Plays with Damien Crudden of the Theatre Royal, York when a cast of 500 strong community cast headed by a couple of professional actors  performed the cycle in the ruins of St Mary's Abbey, Museum Garden.  More than 32,000 attended its month-long run.

On its Twitter feed, the Theatre Royal said: 

In a statement on its website Riding Lights says: “His commitment to the company and to all who encountered it in any way was inspiring and infections, as were his kindness, warmth and humour.

“He was an encourager, guide, mentor and friend to many, whose faith and faithfulness to God flowed into the lives of others.

“Riding Lights was his life’s work, his calling, and a source of deep joy to him.”

The statement from the Board and staff of the theatre concludes: "We value your prayers of thanksgiving for Paul’s life, for all of us at Riding Lights, and most of all for Bernadette, Patrick, Caitlin and Erin, that they may be comforted and surrounded by the love of God."

A service of thanksgiving and celebration for Mr Burbridge's life will be held at 2pm on June 10 at St Michael le Belfrey Church next to York Minster. 


The Dean of York, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, said he was praying for Mr Burbridge's wife Bernadette and all who mourn his death. 

From Australia, the Searchlight Theatre tweeted: 




York St John's University put on Twitter: 


Mr Burbridge, born in 1953, founded Riding Lights touring company based in Friargate, central York, with Nigel Forde and Murray Watts in 1977.

During his 46 years with the company, he was actor, director and writer and was involved in one or more capacities in all the company’s major productions.

Under his guidance, the company won awards for revues at the Edinburgh Festival.

He co-wrote and directed the company’s national tour of a satirical show calling for action on climate change, Baked Alaska, which was produced in partnership with Christian Aid and Operation Noah, an ecumenical Christian charity working on climate change.

On the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, he directed Murray Watt’s play African Snow.