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Our Community

Our Community

At Exeter Cathedral we have a vast community of wonderful people including staff, volunteers, congregation, and so much more! Over the next three months we will be introducing you to some key members of Our Community.

Our Community

Pushkar, Youth Volunteer

How long have you been a youth volunteer at Exeter Cathedral?

“I have been a volunteer at the Cathedral for around 6 months now! I started in December 2023!”

How did you find out about youth volunteering?

“I saw a sign at the Cathedral, near the Stewards Desk, while I was visiting with a few of my friends and decided it would be a cool thing to do!”

What made you want to be a part of it?

“I fell in love with the architecture of the Cathedral the very second I saw it. I was fascinated by its history, the various sculptures and stained-glass windows and as a history buff I just couldn’t get enough. I felt the perfect way to get rid of the stress of uni work would be to spend a little time in the Cathedral giving tours and feeding my passion towards history and architecture!”

What is your favourite thing about Exeter Cathedral?

“Honestly there’s a lot I love in the Cathedral, so it’s hard to choose, but if I had to pick it would be the quire stalls and the organ! I absolutely love the cool carvings in the stalls and how grand they look. The organ is an impressive one as well. I try to attend services or events once in a while, just to hear it in action. I also love the people at the Cathedral! Ever since I’ve started volunteering, I’ve met some of the kindest and welcoming people, from the stewards to the guides. They all have interesting stories as well!”

What does being a youth volunteer entail?

“In my experience being a youth volunteer entails supporting the Cathedral’s functioning in a variety of ways. This can be by interacting with visitors and addressing any questions they have regarding the Cathedral. It also entails planning for future events and exhibitions. As a youth panel member, I’ve been part of quite a few meetings regarding newer exhibits and ways to make the Cathedral more appealing than it already is. Volunteering also helps with developing your own skills, be they communication or team-work!”

Our Community

Flick Evans, Chair of the Exeter Cathedral Flower Arrangers

How long have you been an Exeter Cathedral Flower Arranger for?

“I have been a Cathedral Flower Arranger for about 17 years!”

Were you doing flower arranging before you came to the Cathedral?

“Yes! I was an army officer’s wife, and we were expected to arrange in the barracks chapel and the officers’ mess, which is a designated area for army officers to eat.”

Do you have a favourite flower?

“I don’t really have a favourite flower, but I do have flowers that I don’t like using in arrangements. Like Asian lilies or grandiflora lilies, as these change the shape of an arrangement as they open and that can be very annoying!”

What do you like the most about the Cathedral?

“I love almost everything about the Cathedral – music, liturgy, and the congregation (who are always more than interested in the flowers!). I enjoy talking to visitors about our flowers, but best of all is the privilege and responsibility of leading a very talented team of ladies in our beautiful building.”

Our Community

The Company of Tapisers

The Company of Tapisers has worked since 1933 creating stitched items for the glory of God and the beautification of Exeter Cathedral. We asked a few of the ladies who volunteer their time why they decided to do it.

Catherine (93)

“I’d been a tapper woolworker in St Albans Abbey and so that’s what started me going. When I came here, I just asked if I could join. There were no tests, nothing like that, I became a steward, and a tapiser, and helped with the soup – which was one of the best things I ever did – the weekly soup kitchen for homeless people. Everybody here was really talented, and did some beautiful things, but people don’t know this is going on here. We’re hidden away as working in the cathedral for people to see wouldn’t be practical, we need all our equipment! It has been a great sense of fun and I look forward to Wednesdays. I think I am very lucky that I’ve been part of this, and I’ve known a group of people for almost 25 years, shared their happinesses and their sadnesses – we’re really like a bunch of sisters.”

Maureen

“I enjoy doing embroidery and it was something I’d never done before – this STYLE of embroidery, I’d never even heard of it. I came here and started doing it. Loved it, did a couple of courses, and still love it!”

Joanne

“I It’s very simple, I like embroidery and I like coming here to sew! During covid Diana would still send us emails every day and that was really lovely because that made you feel still part of the group. Because so many things shut down during covid, but we didn’t!”

Christina

“I think I saw it on the BBC, when you were doing something for the coronation, and I thought “oh that looks good!” I love sewing so I thought, this is something totally different, and so I’d see if I could find out about it. It took a while but I’m here now! It’s so nice working on such beautiful fabrics.”

Our Community

Luke Stevenson, Custos

How long have you been at Exeter Cathedral for?

“I have been at the Cathedral since 25 May 2017 (in various roles), so I’m just about to pass the seven-year mark. Google informs me that this is either a copper or wool anniversary!”

How did you end up in the role of Custos?

“I was working in the Cathedral Events department when the job came up. It looked interesting, challenging and rewarding, so I applied and was fortunate to be offered the role. It has been all those things and much more!”

What is your favourite thing about the Cathedral?

“It is very difficult to identify one single thing. There is the building itself, the wonderful team of virgers – who I work with on a daily basis – the superb music that enriches our day, the sense of community across the staff, volunteers and congregations… the list could go on and on. When everything is firing on all cylinders there isn’t a place in the world I’d rather be!”

Why does Exeter Cathedral spell “Virger” with an “I” rather than an “E”?

“In common with other old foundations (e.g. Winchester and St Pauls), at Exeter Cathedral, we spell Virger with an “I” because the job title ‘virger’ derives from the latin ‘’. Virga is usually translated to “branch” or “rod”, and refers to the virges that are carried in processions. These days the virge is mainly ceremonial, but in days gone by, when there were not seats in the Cathedral, the Virgers would use their virges to physically move people out the way of processions, as they made their way through the Cathedral. The Virgers do still occasionally have to (gently) tap people on the shoulder at busy services with them, if they haven’t realised that the service has started.”

Our Community

David Hird, Steeplekeeper for the Exeter Cathedral Bellringers

How long have you been ringing for?

“I have been ringing for 56 years! I started in 1968 in Chesterfield.”

How did you get into bellringing?

“I was a pupil at Chesterfield Grammar School and a friend of mine was one of ten pupils who were taught to ring. He invited me to come and watch one day and I was fascinated by the whole thing! I also loved being able to see inside the tower, which most people don’t get to do.”

What is your favourite part of being a bellringer?

” My favourite thing about being a bellringer is getting to be part of a team and coordinating together.”

How long have you been ringing at Exeter Cathedral?

“I have been ringing here for 12 years! I moved down here when I retired, it’s a lovely place to retire to.”

What is special about being able to ring Exeter Cathedral’s bells?

“They are colossally heavy! The second heaviest set of bells in the world. It takes a real expertise to be able to ring them because of this, but their size gives them a fantastic deep sound.”

What is your favourite thing about Exeter Cathedral?

“My favourite thing about the Cathedral is that it is a community. It is welcoming and vibrant, and I think that has a lot to do with the wonderful job that the current Dean is doing.”

Our Community

Ella Barber, Youth Engagement Officer

How long have you been at Exeter Cathedral?

“I have been at Exeter Cathedral for nearly two years now, I started in July 2022.”

What does the Youth Engagement Officer do?

“My role involves engaging 14–25-year-olds with the Cathedral through volunteering, work experience, and our youth panel. This includes working with students and young people from organisations such as Exeter College, University of Exeter, Oakwood Specialist College and secondary schools in and around the city. I am also involved with helping to deliver the Cathedral’s Activity Plan. This includes working on projects such as ‘Team Gaia’ which involved an immersive theatre performance co-created by young people beneath Gaia last February, and future activities such as the Student Takeover.”

How did you end up in this role?

“I had always wanted to work within heritage and engagement. When I saw the role for Youth Engagement Officer which combined the two within such a beautiful and historic building, I knew I wanted to be involved.”

What is your favourite thing about the Cathedral?

“That’s a tough one! There is so much I love about the Cathedral. One of my favourite things is the how there is something for everyone in the Cathedral. We have young people come in who are studying a range of subjects from theology to engineering, and others outside of education who are simply curious to learn more about the Cathedral and want to get involved. Whatever someone’s interests are there is always something that fascinates them. Many of our youth volunteers have also commented on how friendly the staff and volunteers are and how great it is to be involved in the Cathedral community.”