A message from the Chairman of
The Friends of Coventry Cathedral
Following last month's Annual General Meeting the membership of the Friends Council is as follows.
A TORN POSTER on a shelf in Coventry Cathedral Archives tells the story of Coventry Cathedral’s response to King George VI’s call to the Nation to pray for the country’s deliverance during World War II. Altogether during World War II there were seven National Days of Prayer. The first Day of Prayer was called in May 1940 in those desperate days before the “miracle of Dunkirk”. The King asked the Nation to “…turn to God in a spirit of repentance and plead for Divine help.” The response led to full congregations and queues of worshippers at churches and Cathedrals across the country.
The last National Day of Prayer was in the spring of 1944 when there seemed to be no end in sight. There have been no National Days of Prayer since World War II.
The queue outside Westminster Abbey
Bridging The Miles
In 1965 the “most unassailably Christian enterprise we have ever undertaken” (Provost Williams) began one Sunday morning in Coventry Cathedral when 29 young volunteers were sent behind the Iron Curtain to Dresden to work on rebuilding the Deaconesses Hospital that had been ruined in the Dresden firestorm bombing raids of 1945.
The volunteers made a film record of their work. Members of the Friends are invited to share in the experience of the volunteers at Coventry/Dresden- Bridging The Miles – in Holy Trinity Church Centre at the Old Blue Coat School, Priory Way, Coventry at 7 pm on Monday 15th November 2021.
It is a rare opportunity to see archive film that has never previously been shown to the public. It will be introduced by Professor Ian Bruce, who was one of the first group of young volunteers.
Admission is free. Numbers are limited and tickets are essential. Please apply for your free ticket online using the link –
PROVOST HOWARD STANDS before the congregation gathered in the Cathedral Ruins which had been cleared of rubble ready for lawns to be laid the following Spring. The words "Father Forgive" would then be carved around the Altar of Reconciliation.
This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 14th November 2021, the 81st anniversary of the Coventry Blitz.
Lichtung-Break / Lichtung- White Drift
THE WORK OF Anne Petters will be unveiled on 6th November and will remain in place until 1st February. She is the first artist taking part in the Broken Angel Project inspired by the empty space left by the vandalised glass angel in the West Screen.
Anne's work involves a projection into the empty window space alongside which is a display case enclosing a "book" made of glass.
Mike Tooby, the curator, will be available with Anne to discuss her work between 2pm and 3pm on 1st and 2nd November 2021, and they would love to hear from members of the Cathedral community.
The Friends contributed £10,000 towards this and other arts projects sponsored by the Cathedral.
WHEN LITTLE AMAL arrived at the Cathedral steps she was welcomed by hundreds of spectators of all ages who had gathered to greet her. Little Amil is a young Syrian refugee girl and since July she has walked from Turkey across Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the UK in search of her mother.
She is a 12 feet tall puppet, so why am I speaking of her as if she is a real person? The warmth of the welcome that met her and the natural way in which she moved in response to her welcomers suspended all elements of disbelief within me. Children and adults smiled alike as they shook her hand.
Here was no puppet, but a young girl who had crossed Europe in search of her mother - in search of a new life. She is part of a travelling art work directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi and created by Handspring Puppet Company. Little Amal represents the millions of displaced children who are denied education and a proper family life. She is asking you and I for our response. Little Amil has attracted crowds throughout her long journey, but Coventry’s welcome was not how she has always been received. It was reported that at one stage in Greece she was pelted with stones by anti-immigration demonstrators.
It is a salutary thought that today there are more than 20 million refugees throughout the world and half of them are under 18 years of age.
In the evening of her welcome to Coventry, Little Amil took part in a programme of poetry, music and dance on the Cathedral entrance steps.
THE CATHEDRAL’S ORGAN restoration appeal will be launched on 27th November at 7.30pm with a gala performance on the Harrison and Harrison Cathedral organ by David Briggs. DAVID BRIGGS is a virtuoso organist in demand across the world. His playing brings to organ music a vibrancy and passion that makes it widely accessible. The programme will include Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’, a transcription of Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5 as well as one of the improvisations for which the organist is renowned.
Recently the Church Times review of the Three Choirs Festival 2021 at Worcester included the following paragraph: “Take the staggeringly commanding (often joyously flamboyant) organ virtuoso David Briggs, now based in the United States. Briggs’s original compositions, amazing improvisations, and dazzling transcriptions of orchestral works (Mahler especially) have proved an international triumph. We were treated to his new translation of Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony, entrancingly registered. How does he do it, one wonders?”
David is the nephew of Mike Briggs, a former Choral Clerk in our Cathedral Choir.
TICKETS are now on sale online - Tinyurl.com/davidbriggsconcert
Friends Members can double their money
Members of the Friends can double the value of their contributions to the organ fund by sending their donation through the Friends. The Friends Council has guaranteed to double the value of all members’ contributions (subject to a limit of £10,000).
EXAMPLE: Your £50 becomes £100 gift towards the organ fund
when sent to the Friends in November.
Cheques payable to the Friends of Coventry Cathedral can be sent to 63 Daventry Road, Coventry CV3 5DH. Payment can also be made direct to the Friends account at HSBC, PO BOX 24, City Branch, Coventry CV1 1QJ
Sort code 40 18 17 Account number 80360244
marking the payment “Organ Appeal”. If you pay direct to our bank, please confirm by email to [email protected].
On 27th November from 3 to 4.30pm David Briggs will be coaching three advanced organ students at a masterclass that is open to the public free of charge.
The importance of the Coventry Cathedral organ was recognised in 2013 by the award of a British Institute of Organ Studies Grade I Historic Organs Certificate.
As the instrument is in regular use each week it inevitably suffers from normal wear and tear. Leather parts dry out and crack and as the wooden parts dry they develop tiny fissures. Many of the electronic components are wearing out and need replacing.
The total cost of the organ restoration is an estimated £1 million.
I Was Glad
HRH THE DUCHESS of Gloucester is Patron of the Cathedral Music Trust’s Diamond Fund for Choristers and was in the Coventry Cathedral audience for the concert “I Was Glad” last month.
The Coventry Cathedral Choir was joined by choristers from across the Midlands in a varied programme that included the popular choral pieces “I Was Glad” (Parry), “Zadok The Priest” (Handel) and concluded with John Rutter’s favourite “The Lord bless you and Keep You” conducted by the composer himself.
The Friends membership application form is available online –
LAST MONTH WE lost two people with strong Cathedral connections who are known to many members of the Friends.
PATRICK REYNTIENS died on 25th October 2021, aged 95 years. He collaborated with John Piper in the making of the Cathedral's Baptistry Window. He is pictured on the right when he addressed a congregation group at the Cathedral in 2014.
ROSALEEN TAYLOR (Ros always) was the Cathedral's Youth Officer in the late 1960's. Following Michael Butterfield and Ann Meadows, she extended the outreach of the Cathedral's youth work into the city, running the Youth Club at Bardsley House among other projects. She was also an enthusiastic member of St Michael's Singers. She went on to work further in Social Services in Leeds and Gloucester as a senior trainer. She died of cancer at home near Cheltenham on 19 October.
BACK IN 1984 the Cathedral choristers attended choir practice most mornings before going on to school. In this picture the photographer captured them playing football on the college lawn after practice whilst waiting for their lifts to school.
These choristers will join singers from across the years at the Grand Reunion of former choristers in May 2022. Former Cathedral choristers are asked to get in touch with Mike Smith, who was a Cathedral chorister at the time of the Consecration. With all the ex-chorister contact details gathered in, he can let them know the 2022 Reunion details once the plans are complete.