Friends of Cathedral Music – The Royal Diamond Fund

“Last week I payed a visit to Liverpool for three days with The Royal Diamond Fund representing the St Mary’s Cathedral choir in their concert bringing together lots of choristers from all over Britain in aid of helping families in challenging financial circumstances meet the costs of chorister life.

On day one the morning was full of travelling, planes and trains. And then the afternoon was more eventful, we (me and my dad) made our way across Liverpool to the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral where we made our first impressions and had the first rehearsal. What was striking about the first rehearsal was how incredible 70+ singers all sounded together in one room, and the level of professionalism and skill everyone had, it’s an unforgettable sound.

Day two, rehearsals in the morning meant getting up early but I didn’t mind, that morning everyone was introducing themselves and making friends, it’s refreshing to hear everyone else’s stories of their own choirs and hearing other choristers that have the same life as you’ve had, sometimes chorister life can feel isolating from others but when you meet people that do the same thing as you do everyday and have such similar yet so different experiences, you can really appreciate the experiences you’ve had.

From rehearsal to concert we had a break where we visited the Tate modern art museum, an interesting and confusing place but nonetheless beautiful.

Just before the concert I was chosen along with a few of my friends to meet the Duchess of Gloucester who joined us for the first half of our programme. The concert included pieces from ‘Zadok the Priest’- by George Handel  to ‘Yesterday’- by The Beatles to ‘You’ll never walk alone’ – by Richard Rodgers (in memory of The 96) and was all round a greatly enjoyable experience with great friends and great music.

On day three we had a few hours to spare before travelling home so we spent the day firstly in the (incredible and moving) Beatles Story, and then walking across the harbour to the (also extremely moving) Slavery Museum ans then we rounded off our day in the John and Yoko exhibition, which very nearly brought me to tears being a Beatles fan, I think we visited these in perfect order and would highly recommend all of these to anyone of any age who is interested (especially the John and Yoko exhibition). 

We left Liverpool with a tear in our eye and a smile on our face, all round a great experience I will cherish for years to come.

Thank you for making it possible.”

Nora Rose, Senior Chorister

Closure of the St Mary’s Cathedral Workshop

It is with profound regret that we announce that the Board of St Mary’s Workshop has decided that from Monday 18th March 2019 the Workshop will cease trading, and shortly close.

The Workshop was founded more than 30 years ago to train stonemasons and renovate the stonework of St Mary’s Cathedral. For 25 years, it received substantial funding from Historic Environment Scotland and others to complete those tasks, taking on a couple of apprentices every year as work on the Cathedral continued. In recent years the Workshop received further funding to complete the renovation of the Cathedral, but also to develop a different model of training stonemasons, which, we hoped, would allow the Workshop to prosper and continue its core task of training apprentices.

This Shared Apprenticeship model, formed in collaboration with Skills Development Scotland, meant that apprentices worked not just on the Cathedral but on placements across the industry. The income from those placements, together with support from CITB, HES and other funders, would cover the costs of training and running the Workshop.

However, we have been unable to secure the funding required to make the model sustainable. The Board developed several alternative potential models for the scheme but could not identify one that was sustainable in the long-term without additional funding.

The Board was left with no alternative but to declare the Workshop no longer a going concern and begin to wind it up. We are making active efforts to place our 12 apprentices with other employers.

The Board would like to thank all the employees of the Workshop over the years for their hard work and efforts. Not least our current Trainers, Jordan Kirk and Max Scott, and our Administrator, Maggie Tennant, who have worked tirelessly to try and find a future for the Workshop and to continue to produce the highly skilled stonemasons that our historic buildings need. It is a matter of deep regret and sadness that that has proved impossible.

John Conway – Managing Director
John McKinney – Chair