When an American Apollo 15 astronaut who walked on the moon visited Bradford

Standing before congregants on May 16, 1982, Jim Irwin shared what it was really like during the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon and was the first to drive the lunar rover to its surface.

After his address, members of the cathedral debated the ethics of space travel in a world of competing needs.

Damon Butler with Jim Irwin after the debate, and where he was taken, outside the now de Lacy (then church hall). Pictured: Jennifer Butler.

But what brought the eighth man on the moon to Bradford? Was there a local connection? Was Jim Irwin’s speech part of a larger UK tour?

These are the questions raised by the Reverend Katherine Pate and Damon Butler, a former altar boy at Bingley Cathedral who attended her speech all those years ago.

Now living in Oregon, USA, Butler is an artist. The duo are working on the story of a boy who loved space and his encounter with a real astronaut.

Damon’s mother, the late Jennifer Butler, was an active member of the cathedral and volunteered to take part in the debate – advocating for space exploration in honor of her son’s love for all things space. ‘space.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: One of the most iconic images of a man walking on the Moon.  Irwin signed this photo for Butler when he spoke at Bradford Cathedral.  Photo via Bradford Cathedral/Damon Butler.One of the most iconic images of a man walking on the Moon. Irwin signed this photo for Butler when he spoke at Bradford Cathedral. Photo via Bradford Cathedral/Damon Butler.

“It meant so much to me that my mother supported my enthusiasm for the space program,” Butler said.

“At that time I was a paperboy in Eldwick. I was in space so much that I even asked people on my route for old newspapers if there was anything in them about the space shuttle. Eventually people started saving articles without me even having to ask.

“My mom asked me for help writing her speech, which was about space exploration as hope for the future.

“She believed curiosity was a vital part of what it meant to be human.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: a conceptual sketch of a book illustration.A concept sketch of an illustration from the book.

Irwin’s visit to the Moon completely changed the direction of his life.

NASA records show he quoted Psalm 121 as he gazed at the Apennine Mountains on the Moon: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, where my help comes from, but of course we also receive quite a bit of Houston.”

As Irwin explored the Moon and conducted experiments, he reportedly felt a presence – something he later interpreted as God.

Part of Irwin’s mission was to search for some of the oldest rocks in the solar system.

As he searched, Irwin felt the presence guide him to a pure white rock sitting on a natural pedestal as if it were a museum exhibit.

What they found is now known as Genesis Rock, about four billion years old.

After Apollo 15, Irwin left NASA and began traveling the world with a new mission in life: to share his belief that the beauty of Creation reflects the love and wisdom of the Creator.

Butler and Pate would love to hear from anyone with knowledge of the event via [email protected]

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