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  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Tue 7 Dec 08:45-12:30
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Opening times

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Tue 7 Dec 08:45-12:30
    CLOSED
  • FREE ENTRY

The Roller Coaster That Has Been 2021

This article, written by the Very Revd Geoff Miller, Dean of Newcastle, has previously been published in the December 2021/January 2022 edition of Link, the monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Newcastle

It’s been a busy few months at the Cathedral – isn’t it always! A tired but excited volunteer and staff team thought it would be lovely just to breathe out a bit and take a moment as the capital works finished. They were late completing the works – blasted COVID – but on 12 August the great west door promptly opened wide and without even a hesitation, the roller coaster journey gathered a new speed. We have realised that nothing stops for anyone.

Of course, there are snags; fortunately, the contractors are with us for the next year. However, I have been overwhelmed with the positive responses: “wow” is the most used word. Though I know that there are those who lament the pews, so many more have described the space as awe-inspiring, elegant, light and welcoming. We have had thousands of visitors: we have welcomed between 300 and 500 people every day and events like the Northumbria University graduations brought 17,000 guests.

There have been activities punctuating each week – concerts, tours, exhibitions, visiting groups and lots of family activities. I’ve talked to grandparents who “just called in” yet stayed for hours, making hats and doing trails. Visitors who have found some solace and a place to pray and more and more people asking for directions to the café “with the magnificent choice of cakes!”. Conversations abound and it has been wonderful to see our volunteers in action day in and day out.

All this has meant little rest for staff and volunteers. To add to the pressure, we had a visit from our ‘Peer Reviewers’ who spent a few days with us gaining an impression of how we work and who will write a report on all they observed and left with a spring in their step. I remain grateful for the work of so many taking the courageous steps that have got us to this point.

Not everything has gone to plan. With the ‘Friends of the Cathedral’, we commissioned some new liturgical furniture: an altar, ambo and choir stalls. A small design team from the Ouseburn Valley (RASKL) was appointed, to undertake the commission and the designs agreed by Chapter and the Cathedrals Commission for England. The designer Dan has been working hard with his team but sadly COVID has caused a series of delays that means we have decided to defer the dedication and celebration of the furniture until early in the New Year. We hope we will be able to make a real occasion to invite folk to join us for a celebration.

Meanwhile, there are some other more imminent exciting things to look forward to. Advent and Christmas loom large in our planning, with hopes that this year will have a full array of carol services and concerts to come and share. Full details of the programme are available by clicking here.

This year we will celebrate our Patronal Festival on Saturday 11 December. We will welcome the Archbishop of York to Preside and Preach at our Patronal Eucharist at 11am that day. Archbishop Stephen will then spend the rest of the day with us meeting staff and volunteers and offering a public lecture in the early evening at 6:30pm – click here to book tickets. Please join us and bring your friends.

So, we will end the year on a real high – but no time to pause.

May we never forget it is the great God of love who calls us, leads us and energises us. It is His kingdom we seek to add our modest contribution and we remain forever thankful that He wants us to share the journey and work.

‘At the heart of Christmas’ is the Church of England’s theme for Advent and Christmas 2021. Click here to find out more.

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