Cathedral's £10m campaign joy

The long-running campaign to take Norwich Cathedral into the “premier division” of cathedrals in the country has reached its target of raising £10m.

By LAURA DEVLIN

To dream of this day seemed an almost impossible test of faith just eight years ago.

But finally, the long-running campaign to take Norwich Cathedral into the “premier division” of cathedrals in the country has reached its target of raising £10m.

The appeal, which has already funded the award-winning refectory, will now pay for a similarly stunning building on the site of the original hostry.

Yesterday, the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Graham Smith, and those who worked on the appeal from the beginning gave a huge thank you to businesses, benefactors and people who gave so generously since the biggest county-led campaign of any cathedral in the country launched in 1999.

Poignantly, the final push that tipped the campaign over the target was a £400,000 bequest in a will from Kathleen Bowerbank, of Bungay, who had been associated with the cathedral all her life.

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Campaign manager Henry Cator, who has stuck with the project from day one, drove a 1914 Rolls Royce 5,000 miles from Tashkent to Peking and raised £45,000 back in 2000.

“I never dreamed that reaching our target would take as long as it has but I always knew from the outset that it was a job that needed to be done and it is thanks to the enormous support from people, not only in terms of money, but in time and enthusiasm,”he said.

“I believe these two buildings will put Norwich Cathedral in the premier division of cathedrals in the country, but we wouldn't be here without the help and the tremendous team approach which has been the hallmark of the whole campaign, and I must thank the staff and friends of Norwich Cathedral who were such stalwarts behind the whole fundraising process.

“It has been about people, and people have got behind this plan for different reasons, but with a common link of their love of the cathedral and their belief in the important part it plays in the city and the county.

“I think Norwich and Norfolk should be very proud that two great new buildings will be in place for future generations to enjoy at Norwich Cathedral.”

Notable fundraising events and milestones along the way included a charity auction which raised £47,000; the Bishop and the Dean at the time, Stephen Platten, appearing in panto at the Theatre Royal and a ball at St Andrew's Hall. Remarkably, the cathedral reached its halfway point of £5m in 2001, with the refectory open by 2004.

The dean joined the cathedral after the campaign had begun and admitted that there must have been mutterings of disquiet when it was announced.

“I think it shows great courage - people must have said this will never be done, you are biting off more than you can chew, but we got there with patience and persistence,” he said.

“This campaign had a vision of what the cathedral can do in the future and that's really captured people's imagination - they want the cathedral to work in the future and not just stay as it is.

“For the first time since 1538, the people of Norwich will be walking through that arch in to the new hostry building.

“It's been sitting in a green field for all those centuries and now it will be brought back to life again, which is really, really good.

“I am immensely proud but I cannot take much credit because I have not been here from the beginning, but the supporters have done a most fantastic job. They have done all the work and it is an extraordinary achievement.

“I would like to say a big thank you to the people who have stayed with us and been so generous.”

Work on the hostry is out to tender and construction is expected to begin in the autumn, with archaeologists already working on site.

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