For Volunteers’ Week we are celebrating the amazing people who give their time to Exeter Cathedral. People we could never manage without. Below are just a few of the many who lend their skills to provide essential support on a regular basis.
Sylvia: Chair of Flower Arrangers, Exeter Cathedral
I’m often left speechless by what the team has achieved.
Sylvia: Chair of Flower Arrangers
A few years ago, while volunteering as a steward on Friday mornings, I was tentatively asked if I would like to join the flower arrangers, a group I’d seen and heard much of in my time at the Cathedral.
Despite some initial nerves, I took the plunge and it is fair to say, I’ve never looked back! To walk around our charming building at the end of each morning session, I’m often left speechless by what the team has achieved.
Never actually knowing what flowers will be delivered on the day, only the colour; presents an exciting and exhilarating challenge for us as we all arrive with bags of foliage under our arms, ready for another week. Completing a total of nine large arrangements every fortnight, we are never left short of work to do.
Arranging to a high standard has enabled us to branch out and accept private bookings and requests. From weddings to funerals, no matter the occasion, we are always happy to hear from people. A personal highlight for me was eight years ago, when we held a Flower Festival to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was not only a really rewarding experience but also a tremendous honour.
As a means of raising money, each year, we hold a plethora of workshops and stalls, always striving to deliver the highest quality arrangements.
If you’re interested in getting involved with flower arranging at Devon’s largest church, please do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!
Elizabeth: Singer, Virger, Eucharistic Assistant and Altar Server, Exeter Cathedral
I love being an active part of the worshipping community at the Cathedral.”
Elizabeth: Singer, Virger, Eucharistic Assistant and Altar Server
Elizabeth has been volunteering at Exeter Cathedral since moving to the city from New Zealand in 2016. “I love singing, especially in choirs, and enjoy being a member of St Peter’s Singers. The choir sings at many special services each year and performs a broad and challenging repertoire under its director, Timothy Parsons. When not singing, I also enjoy assisting at services in the Cathedral, as a volunteer virger, Eucharistic assistant, or as part of the Cathedral’s team of altar servers. Having a ceremonial role in the worship focuses my faith and brings me closer to God. Additionally, I have made a great many friends across the different volunteer groups, and I love being an active part of the worshipping community at the Cathedral.”
The Exeter Cathedral Bellringers
I enjoy volunteering as a Cathedral bellringer as it is such a unique way to contribute to the life of the Cathedral, sounding out the bells across the city and calling people to worship.
Clare: Tower Secretary, Exeter Cathedral Bellringers
Being a bellringer at Exeter Cathedral is a very special privilege. Our group numbers just over thirty ringers, all of us learnt to ring in different churches across Devon and even the rest of the country, but we come to ring at Exeter Cathedral as we gain experience, and because we want to ring on one of the finest and heaviest peals of twelve bells in Great Britain.
As Cathedral bellringers, we ask for commitment from all our members to attend practice regularly, ringing itself is a physical skill, using a combination of musical and mathematical understanding to make the bells sound perfect and glorious. We ring for Sunday services, often both mornings and evenings, as well as for special services throughout the year such as Easter Day, Ascension Day and Remembrance Sunday, national events and commemorations, and of course weddings.
For myself, I enjoy volunteering as a Cathedral bellringer as it is such an unique way to contribute to the life of the Cathedral, sounding out the bells across the city and calling people to worship. Being tower secretary, I particularly enjoy working with all the Cathedral staff and making friends with the other volunteer teams, and we also receive many visitors from across the country who want the opportunity to ring the Cathedral bells, so it is a very varied and interesting role. I also love being in the Cathedral early in the morning or perhaps late in the evening when we are ringing the bells, it is a very special moment to be a part of such a wonderful building.
Graham: Guide and Steward, Exeter Cathedral
I volunteer because I really enjoy meeting people!
Graham: Guide and Steward
My name is Graham, and I am a volunteer guide here at the Cathedral, taking visitors on both ground floor and roof tours. I am also involved in training new guides. When I’m not actually guiding, I undertake a stewarding role which involves welcoming visitors, helping them to understand the building, answering general questions and hopefully being a welcoming face! I volunteer because I really enjoy meeting people! Coming from a background in public service, that interaction with people from all over the UK and indeed the world is my main reason for doing this. I love history and architecture – especially churches and cathedrals – so I couldn’t be better placed for indulging my interests! Bringing this wonderful building to life for our visitors is definitely a pleasure, not a chore! I particularly enjoy seeing the look on visitors’ faces when they first step inside the magnificent roof space, to then be followed by the amazing views from the top of the north tower. I want people to come from one of my tours feeling they have learnt something new, had an enjoyable and fun time, and hopefully feel they have had value for money – then I’ve done my job!
Children join the choir often too shy to utter a sound on their own and six months later are singing complicated music in foreign languages. Watching their progress is a real joy!
Sheila: Library and Archives Assistant and Chorister Chaperone
I have been a volunteer at the Cathedral for over 30 years in a variety of roles but it is since I retired in 2006 that a big part of my life has been devoted to spending many hours each week doing what I can to help maintain the life and work of Devon’s mother church. Currently, my two favourite activities are a) working in the Library and Archives each Tuesday morning and b) acting as one of several chaperones for the choristers when they are singing Evensong in the Quire during the week and at week-ends for the big Choral services particularly on a Sunday. Hopefully, I am of some use in both roles but there is no doubt whatsoever that I gain FAR more than I contribute. In the Library, the opportunity to work with all sorts of historic documents is a real privilege and to do so in the company of all sorts of scholarly individuals is humbling but highly entertaining. The work with the choir is equally so and to be exposed at each practice and service to music of such a high standard is pure unadulterated pleasure. Children join the choir often too shy to utter a sound on their own and six months later are singing complicated music in foreign languages. Watching their progress is a real joy! I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have been given the opportunity to be a small part of these two aspects of Cathedral life.