Haytham, T.rex exhibition volunteer

Can you tell us about the area you volunteer in, and what it entails?

I am currently volunteering as an exhibition assistant helping to ensure the successful delivery of the Natural History Museum's touring exhibition, T.Rex: The Killer Question, while it is being hosted here at the Cathedral. I greatly enjoy this role as it involves greeting and engaging with members of the public who are not just visiting the world class Cathedral that we are lucky enough to have here in Peterborough but also the world class exhibition which we are lucky enough to be hosting! Volunteering as an exhibition assistant is a mixed and varied role and involves providing visitors with information about the exhibition and the Cathedral as and when required and ensuring that visitors are made welcome and enjoy their visit.

How and when did you come to volunteer at Peterborough Cathedral?

I have only really been volunteering at the Cathedral for about 2 weeks now (since the exhibition has been open to the public) but prior to that I was involved with the effort to get the dinosaurs and all the bits and pieces that came with them into the Cathedral ahead of the exhibition opening. It was hard work but it certainly made for a memorable experience and is for sure something to be proud of. I think it was my mum that that first sent me the advert which was asking for volunteers to help with the running of the exhibition after she had seen it online back in May and at that time I was about to start my GCSE exams and I knew that after that a very long summer holiday would be ahead and this meant it was time for me to start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life after leaving school so I encouraged myself to put my name down as being interested to volunteer to see where it would lead me and after attending an introduction session, I filled out an application, attended training and have since found myself spending my spare time volunteering with animatronic dinosaurs in a 900+ year old Cathedral. I'm pleased to say that Peterborough Cathedral is the first place I've volunteered and after the exhibition has left us I hope to stay on and help in other roles.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Cathedral?

I think the most enjoyable part of volunteering at the Cathedral is getting to meet new people from all walks of life, all with different reasons for visiting. The Cathedral really is open to all and its evident that the people of Peterborough and beyond know this from the diversity of people that come through the doors. This just wouldn't be possible without the warmth and passion for this great place that is held by the staff and volunteers. There's always a new face to see and a new conversation to be had with a new story to be told at the Cathedral and you can guarantee every day is different from the next.

Also, I doubt there are very many people that can say that they get to volunteer with dinosaurs!

What would you say to people who are considering applying to volunteer at the Cathedral?

I would certainly recommend volunteering at the Cathedral to anyone that is out there looking for volunteering opportunities and even to those aren't actively looking to volunteer at the Cathedral or anywhere else for that matter, they should definitely consider volunteering and consider the Cathedral as the best place to do it. You'll get to work with a great team of volunteers and a great team of staff including a dedicated volunteer co-ordinator. There is a role for everybody at the Cathedral and it's a great place to truly make a difference.

One of the Cathedrals values is joyfulness. In what way do you personally see that demonstrated at the Cathedral?

I see joyfulness demonstrated at the Cathedral the moment I walk through the doors, everybody you come across regardless of who they are or what they are doing has a smile on their face, a stride in their step and a reason for being there. Many say the Cathedral gives strength and guidance and as a volunteer you see that this is true as the joy of the people here is unlike that anywhere else.

Maureen, Volunteer Guide and Welcomer

I would recommend volunteering at the Cathedral to anyone as this is a wonderful setting in which to work and there are many different roles where help is needed and therefore something to suit everyone. You also work with other volunteers who share your interests whether this is love of history, architecture or just this lovely building. There are also opportunities for those who like working with their hands i.e embroidery and gardening. 

Many visitors come to the various events at the Cathedral, and some just to enjoy the space, but I have learned whilst working as a welcomer that all are welcome here and this place brings solace and peace to many who come at difficult times in their lives. Many have thanked us for just being here, and that certainly makes being a Cathedral volunteer really worthwhile.'

Adele, Volunteer Chorister Chaperone

'I have loved being a part of the Cathedral community over the last ten years. Everyone is so warm and welcoming, and to volunteer in such an magnificent building is a real privilege. Being around the choristers is a real joy. Witnessing their different characters before a service, some lively and enthusiastic, others quiet and calm, come together to sing so beautifully and professionally is a joy to me!'

Helena, Bell Ringing Master

'It is very rewarding being part of such an historic yet forward thinking cathedral, I have been amazed at the wide variety of different events that the cathedral puts on, it is wonderful to see this beautiful building open to all on so many occasions. Joyfulness is demonstrated at the Cathedral in the willingness to embrace new ventures, host unusual events and welcome new communities, individuals and ages. It is a wonderfully inclusive community, which I think has a lot to teach the wider church.  Bells are part of this joyfulness.

'Who can honestly say they don’t find the sound of church bells on Christmas morning joyful and the ringing on Easter Day a wonderful celebration of the Resurrection.'

If you would like to learn to ring, or just find out more about Bell Ringing, we are always pleased to see new people, just pop along one Monday evening, or drop me an email helenathorpe@gmail.com.'

Sue, Volunteer Guide

'The Cathedral contains within its walls, 900 years of prayers, hopes, joy, sadness, comfort and solace. I am not religious myself, but I love the spirituality that is almost tangible. Any person who recognises the special nature of this church and its surroundings could be very happy in a volunteering role, and if they like talking to people, have a good memory for dates and facts, possess an inquiring mind and have time to spare, I thoroughly recommend guiding.'

Trevor, Library Volunteer

'Although being in a Cathedral atmosphere, there are times when we simply enjoy a good laugh and sharing of our experiences, and isn’t that what we all need?'

Shirley, Welcome Desk Volunteer

'I see joyfulness all over the Cathedral. It is a joyous place as soon as you walk in. During Covid, when things seemed dire outside, the Cathedral is a calm constant inside. Visitors often comment on the sense of calm wrapping around them when they enter the Cathedral.'


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