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Our trustees


Virendra Soni

BCOF Chairman

Dr. Virendra Soni FRCS, a retired eye surgeon, is Chairman of BCOF (Bedford Council of Faiths) and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS). He served as a consultant eye surgeon for the Royal Society for the Blind, contributing to sight restoration projects in Malaysia, Nigeria, and Ghana. Beyond his medical career, Dr. Soni is an active member of Rotary International, dedicated to community service and humanitarian efforts. Served as a magistrate in magistrate criminal courts for 18 years. Served as chairman of Bedford Town Cricket Club for 3 years. Served Hindu Society Bedford in various posts since 1986.

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Cassandra Howes

BCOF Secretary

Cass Howes, a Methodist Minister and former psychiatric and general nurse. She became a Higher Education chaplain after theological studies, retiring recently from a 13-year chaplaincy at the Bedford Campus of the University of Bedfordshire. During her chaplaincy at Aston University and Birmingham Polytechnic, Cass developed her art practice at Bournville Art College. She actively promotes the National Methodist Modern Art Collection and continues to create artwork during creative retreat days.

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Christian/Roman Catholic

Peter Gerrish

BCOF Assistant Secretary

After leaving school, Peter pursued social work and earned a B.Sc (Hons) in Science and the Environment, followed by an M.Sc in Energy Conservation and the Environment. He chaired North Bedford Churches Together for three years and served as secretary of BCoF for a period. He worked as a supply teacher and wrote the Town Centre column for the Bedfordshire Times until its closure in 1995.

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Wendi Momen

BCOF Treasurer

Wendi Momen is a social activist and advocate addressing a wide range of issues. She holds multiple roles, including: National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (treasurer/trustee); Widows Rights International (trustee/secretary); UK Civil Society Women’s Alliance (executive board member); Bedford Council of Faiths (treasurer/trustee); Bahá’í Agency for Social and Economic Development UK (trustee); National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the UK (trustee/director); Ethical Business Building the Future (Co-founder/Governing Board member); International Environment Forum (board member). She is a member of Soroptimist International and served as a magistrate and lay judge in the family court for 38 years. With a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics, she is also Governor Emeritus of the institution. She received an MBE in 2014 for services to the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and to the community in Bedfordshire, and in 2024, she was awarded the King George III Coronational Medal for her participation in the 2023 Coronation.

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James Peter Jandu

BCOF Communications Adviser

James is a seasoned relationship coach who specialises in guiding individuals and couples toward healthier, more fulfilling relationships. His dedication to this profession stems from his Christian values and extensive involvement within the Christian community. James takes pleasure in art, drawing inspiration from diverse artistic expressions. He enthusiastically participates in charitable endeavours, exemplifying values of compassion and generosity through his community contributions.

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Vijay Nayar

Vijay has been a local GP and Medical Educator for over 30 years and is interested in how we can promote equity and fairness in education and training. He is a proponent of compassionate and inclusive leadership, which creates working cultures and practices that recognise, respect, value, and harness differences for the benefit of organisations and individuals.

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Rashid Rogers

Retired banker and company secretary. Member of Subud since 1970. He is currently a Subud Britain Committee Councillor and delegate to the 16th Subud World Congress taking place in Kalimantan in July 2024. Introduced to Bedford Council of Faiths by former BCOF treasurer, the late Imam Irshad Ali, in 1987.

Reformed Jew

Chiara Mitchell-Middleton

BCOF Safeguarding Officer


Tarsem Paul


Bipichandra Shah

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Sue Beaumont

Sue Beaumont has many years of experience working within diverse faith communities and is committed to interfaith cooperation, locally and nationally. She sits on the Board of Remembering Srebrenica, East of England and is a member of UNA [Luton]. Sue is also a member of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

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Tirath Singh Bhavra

A retired engineer, he has served as a Sikh chaplain at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Centre and Lister Stevenage Hospital. A lifelong member and founder of BCOF, also serving as a Sikh Sewadar (voluntary service) within the Bedford Sikh Community, actively involved in organising events and daily operations at Sikh Gurdwaras. Recognised with the Mayor’s Award for Citizenship in Voluntary Service (1995), he has deep connections to Bedford since the mid-1950s. A great-grandparent with three generations as witnesses in the UK.

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Ralley Rahman

I founded and chair i-Learn Bedford, with over 30 years of community engagement and activism experience. I’ve dedicated myself to advocating for families and vulnerable individuals, especially those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). I am currently the Bedford Borough councillor for the Kingsbrooke Ward. In my personal life, I am a mother of five children and a grandmother of three.

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Bishop of Bedford

Rt Revd Richard Atkinson

Richard Atkinson OBE was ordained an Anglican priest in 1985. He is currently Bishop of Bedford in St Albans Diocese, having been consecrated bishop in 2012 following a role as Archdeacon of Leicester. He is married to Dame Professor Helen Atkinson, and they have three children. He is the Chair of One YMCA, the Luton Roma Trust, the Diocesan Board of Education, and the Church of England work with disabled and deaf people. He was formerly a Co-Chair of the Interfaith Network UK and Founder Chair of the St Philip’s Centre, Leicester.

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Business Owner

Eric Masih

Eric is a prominent local businessman and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire (2022- 2023), known for his entrepreneurial ventures and dedication to public service, including a Trustee of Bedfordshire Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support and Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity, executive member of Bedford Hospital Charity and friends. Chair of Queens Park Community Organisation. Chair of British Asian Christian  Concern and Patron of Legacy of Windrush Descendants and Friends.

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