Peo­ple power

We meet some of the peo­ple cre­at­ing the magic that Ch­ester of­fers to both vis­i­tors and res­i­dents Cheshire Life: De­cem­ber 2018 Cheshire Life: De­cem­ber 2018

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Ch­ester Cathe­dral has a new Dean, The Very Rev­erend Dr Tim Strat­ford, although he’s not new to the city. He was brought up in Liver­pool and re­calls vis­it­ing Ch­ester when he was a boy.

‘It was only a ferry ride away and that was al­ways ex­cit­ing,’ he says as he pre­pares for the busiest sea­son in the Church’s cal­en­dar, Christ­mas.

‘But it is the first time I have lived here and I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting about both in the city and the county.’

‘The Dean’s role reaches right across the county and rep­re­sents not only Ch­ester but the whole dio­cese that in­cludes parts of Mersey­side, Man­ches­ter and Der­byshire.’

‘The Church of Eng­land is split into 42 dio­ce­ses and each has a Bishop as its leader. The cathe­dral is seen as the mother of the church and the Dean is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for mother church.

‘Most of my time is spent en­sur­ing the cathe­dral serves the city and its peo­ple well. We are one of the old­est in the coun­try and so we are re­spon­si­ble too for a lot of his­tory, look­ing af­ter the build­ing and its arte­facts and then mak­ing sure peo­ple can see them and ap­pre­ci­ate them, that is part of my role.’

The chal­lenges for Dr Tim are like those of any­one with a large old build­ing to main­tain and that is rais­ing enough money to look af­ter it. He says the Church of Eng­land is deemed rich but it’s wealth is in­vested in prop­erty.

An­other aim is to make the cathe­dral wel­com­ing and hos­pitable to peo­ple.

‘It is easy to slip into think­ing that we should be here for the build­ing when in fact the build­ing is here for the peo­ple,’ he says.

‘Christ­mas time is when we have a lot of op­por­tu­nity to show what the cathe­dral has to of­fer but that also means we put our­selves un­der a lot of stress and the con­se­quences of that can be that we aren’t as wel­com­ing. It’s about keep­ing that bal­ance right so we don’t lose a sense of pro­por­tion and not to take our­selves too se­ri­ously.’

There are ex­cit­ing times ahead for the cathe­dral which he says will be a place of ex­hi­bi­tions, in­stal­la­tions, per­for­mance arts, mu­sic and wor­ship and for so­cial gath­er­ing.

‘We will be set­ting a theme for the year,’ he ex­plains.

‘The next theme is wa­ter and we will be putting on a lot of events and in­stal­la­tions within the build­ing. Wa­ter is where Chris­tian life be­gins, ini­tially with bap­tism. There will be art, mu­sic, fam­ily events and an ex­clu­sive ex­hi­bi­tion called The Deep. I can’t say any­thing about it but peo­ple will no­tice it.’

As one per­son en­ters the cathe­dral an­other says adieu.

Jo Sykes has been the Chair of Ch­ester’s Mys­tery Plays at the cathe­dral since the 1990s.

“Most of my time is spent en­sur­ing the cathe­dral serves the city and its peo­ple well”

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