It’s Volunteers Week – and while our buildings are closed, it is even more important that we remember and honour our unsung army of Cathedral volunteers without whom our cathedrals would be so much less. #MoreThanABuilding
We know many of them have missed being part of our cathedral life – the flower-arrangers, tomb-dusters, tea-mashers, servers, tour guides, bell-ringers, welcomers, cake-bakers, gardeners, children’s activity organisers, event stewards – even Lego builders! And all are looking forward to a time when they are able to get back into our buildings safely within the Government and Public Health guidelines.
Even in lockdown our cathedrals are still marking Volunteers Week and saying thank you in new and creative ways.
Truro Cathedral is hosting a cream tea for their volunteers on Zoom, Portsmouth is holding an online volunteers’ tea this week and Exeter is featuring different volunteers on its social media every day. Birmingham is celebrating its #TeamCathedral by sharing stories of its volunteers throughout Volunteer Week.
Durham is also sharing volunteer stories online – including the talented team of Durham Cathedral LEGO® volunteers who back in 2013 took on the enormous challenge of overseeing the construction of the cathedral in LEGO®’, the largest LEGO® model ever built by the general public.
The volunteer flower arrangers at Chichester have been sharing their blooms on social media and made hand-tied floral displays to put on show in their homes as part of the city’s much anticipated biennial Festival of Flowers which was launched last week online- but has promised to break with tradition and return next year 2021.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral, which has 350 volunteers, and Gloucester with more than 400, are both using social media to say thank you during lockdown. St Edmundsbury has invited all its volunteers to a live-streamed service on Facebook to say thank you this week.
Volunteers working at Salisbury Cathedral, who were honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2016, have taken to using digital means themselves to continue their volunteering. Like Steve, a guide.
Bradford Cathedral took part in the Cheer for Volunteers in their city last night and has prepared a package of online thank-yous and support for their 200-plus volunteers. Each has received a certificate and been asked to send back a photo posing with their certificate to be shared online and in a video premiered daily at 10 am every day of Volunteers Week on the cathedral’s social media. The videos tell the stories of Bradford’s volunteers, their roles, how they got involved and what being a volunteer means to them.
Like Heather Choudhary on hospitality, welcoming and being part of the stitching team:
“There’s no such thing as being just a volunteer. For me that doesn’t exist. I would say – I am a volunteer, and proud and happy to be so!”
Volunteers Week at Bradford concludes with a special online celebration on Saturday for all volunteers to watch together which replaces the planned physical party.
A spokesperson for the Association of English Cathedrals said:
“While we can’t physically be together, it is wonderful that our volunteers can still be recognised in this way. Each and every one plays a significant role in the life of our cathedrals. They are an extraordinary group of individuals, who give of their time and talents generously and are an example to us all. We look forward to being able to be together again when the time is right.”