Welcome to this Spring edition of the Friends’ newsletter. As I write, following some recent uncharacteristically balmy weather, the arrival of British Summer Time has been characterised by tumbling temperatures, biting winds and driving snow showers, albeit with some bright sunshine! Spring is rightly seen as a time of new growth and expectation, but this changeable weather is a reminder that, whilst all of us would wish life to return to pre-pandemic normality, covid will continue to visit us in its various guises, attempting to affect our daily lives and activities. One recent casualty has been the already rearranged conference for the Friends of Cathedrals, Abbeys and Greater Churches due to take place in Ripon. The Treasurer and I had reserved places but sadly there was not enough uptake in order to make the weekend viable. We look forward to attending the next conference, due to take place in Hereford in 2023. There has been considerable discussion about how best to restart our usual programme of activities, but the presently high level of covid infections leads us to remain cautious. It has therefore been decided that, once again, we will not be arranging either our annual day out or the reception and afternoon tea to welcome new members. Hopefully, our events committee will begin meeting again to plan a programme of activities for the future. One event that did take place last December was, of course, our annual ‘Carols by Candlelight’ concert. This was very well attended, even though there were no refreshments! Once again, the audience was treated to some superb singing from our Cathedral Choir and I was able to introduce the two new Friends’ Choristers -for the first time brother and sister- and the new Friends’ Choral Scholar. Supporting the Cathedral’s music outreach remains a firm commitment of our association and our most recent backing for the choir has been a substantial donation towards the provision of new cassocks and surplices for the boy and girl choristers. Included in this newsletter is an article by Jane Cowan, the Cathedral Head Conservator, about the recently completed West Front renovation, particularly on the Romanesque frieze. The removal of the scaffolding from the West front was some event, providing quite a spectacle when viewed from the Friends’ office. The completion of this restoration, which has gone on for many years, has resulted in a stunningly impressive view of the West Front. The never ending cycle of restoration has now moved to the exterior of the Chapter House and next in line will be conservation work on the east end of the cathedral, in particular the great east window.
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