There can be few better readings from the Old Testament to accompany the installation of five new lay canons last week, than our first reading from the prophet Haggai. It describes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after its destruction by the Babylonians. It could not be more appropriate, given the responsibility of the Chapter to maintain this magnificent building on behalf of the people of Devon. I am also mindful of the great building work going on at present with the rebuilding of part of the cloister, destroyed during the Civil War, and the refurbishment of the Quire.
Today marks a new chapter in the life of the Cathedral and I use the word ‘chapter’ deliberately because no less than four out of these five new canons, with a further two on Saturday, and a seventh next month, will be full members of Chapter, working alongside our team of excellent residentiary canons.
Following extensive consultation, legislation was passed two years ago to strengthen the governance of cathedrals in England which has resulted in our Cathedral being furnished with a new Constitution & Statutes, in which the Chapter is expanded by the introduction of Non-Executive members. The majority of these are lay people, who will work in partnership with the clergy for the flourishing of the Cathedral and its community.
Following public advertisement, a new Nominations Committee, ably chaired by Lady Arran, our Vice Lord Lieutenant, has interviewed those who expressed interest in such a role and identified a gifted and highly capable team of lay people, and it is my privilege to introduce them to you tonight. I say ‘introduce’, but some of them will be known to you already, having been associated with the Cathedral for some time.
Barnabas Hurst-Bannister is known to many of you because until recently he chaired the now defunct Cathedral Council, which disappeared in the new governance arrangements. Barnabas’s professional life is rooted in the London Insurance Market. I have appointed Barnabas as the Senior Non-Executive Member of Chapter (SNEM), so that there is continuity as well as change, stability as well as challenge. Barnabas, like his Biblical namesake, is a great encourager and I pray that like St Barnabas in the Acts of the Apostles, he will be ‘a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit’.
Jenny Ellis is a lay member of the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal, a member of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Exeter Prison, and a governor of our own Cathedral School. Prior to retirement and her excellent decision to migrate from London to Topsham, she was CEO of the Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It won’t surprise you to know that Jenny brings to her work significant experience in strategic planning and business delivery, as well as corporate governance.
Like Barnabas, John Lee has served on the Cathedral Council. He lives outside Crediton and worships at St Swithun’s, Shobrooke where he is also churchwarden. As a former High Sheriff and as a Deputy Lord Lieutenant, John has wide knowledge of the county and the farming community. Indeed, until recently he was chair of the Farmers’ Club and is heavily involved in Devon County Agricultural Association.
Ian King grew up in Exeter and like John, is another hard-working churchwarden, in his case of St Michael’s, Heavitree. He is an internationally experienced Investment Professional, working until recently in Madrid as well as London. With over 35 years of banking experience across global markets, he will bring considerable expertise to the deliberations of Chapter.
On Saturday I also installed two further lay Canons: Mark Yallop and Giles Frampton.
During a four-decade career in international banking and capital markets, Mark Yallop has served as Group Chief Operating Officer of Deutsche Bank, as UK Chief Executive of UBS and has served on the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Committee, charged with ensuring the safety and soundness of UK banking and insurance industries. For seven years, he was Chair of the Financial Markets Standards Board, which seeks to raise ethical standards of behaviour in markets. Mark is a founder partner in a venture capital business which backs innovative businesses, spinning out of universities in the region, including Exeter University. If he hasn’t got enough to do, Mark is also a member of his church’s PCC in Stoke Gabriel. He will bring valuable experience to help the Cathedral engage with businesses across Devon.
Giles Frampton is a chartered accountant and is well known to the Cathedral community, having served as a Chapter Canon since 2012. He is Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance and a trustee of Posbury St Francis Trust, and of course Ruth, his wife, is an incumbent in the Diocese. Giles will bring to the work of Chapter his considerable expertise in finance, audit and risk, governance and charities, and help ensure the Cathedral and Diocese work in harmony.
We talk about the Cathedral being the ‘Mother Church’ of the Diocese and part of the role of the Non-Execs is to ensure that the Cathedral stays closely in touch with our network of parishes and the county we all seek to serve. As I read out their Deeds of Collation, the observant among you will notice that some are appointed for two years, and others for three. This is not a mistake. It has been done deliberately to provide continuity so that people do not all retire at once and leave the Chapter bereft of wisdom.
Last but by no means least, is Professor Penny Endersby who will serve as a Lay Canon alongside the others but not as a Non-Executive member of Chapter. In case you hadn’t noticed, Penny already has a more than fulltime job as CEO of the Met Office. Throughout her long career in public service, Penny has striven (in her own words) to turn ‘scientific research into life-saving applications’. She not only steered the Met Office adeptly through the pandemic but has secured the organisation’s largest ever investment in the world’s biggest supercomputer, dedicated to monitoring the weather and climate change. Penny is the UK’s permanent representative on the World’s Meteorological Organisation. As the Dean mentioned, Penny is no stranger to the Cathedral because she and Alastair are regular worshippers here and Penny is a member of the St Peter’s Singers. Penny will be known as Canon Scientist, stewarding and exploring the interface of science and religion.
As I hope you will appreciate from hearing something about the gifts and expertise of our new Lay Canons, individually and collectively they are a powerful witness to lay discipleship who will bring a depth and a breadth to the deliberations of Chapter and the Cathedral foundation. We welcome them and pray God’s blessing on their ministry.
+ Robert Exon