An interview with Adele, a volunteer Chorister Chaperone

I volunteer as a parent chaperone for the Cathedral choristers. This entails supervising the children during rehearsals and services and sometimes at special events such as concerts.

Duties include preparing and supervising snack time and making sure the children are dressed and ready for service.

I became a parent chaperone when my older children, twins Grace and Lucas became choristers ten years ago. My youngest son Fin is now in Year 8 and in his last term as a chorister.

Listening to the choir sing during Evensong at the end of a long day is very special and I would recommend it to everyone.

I have loved being 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!

An interview with  Helena Thorpe, Bell Ringing Master

I am the ringing master at the Cathedral, this involves organising the ringing of bells for Sunday service and any additional special services the Dean would like the bells rung for. This sounds straight forward in principal, however bell ringing is a complicated skill to learn and one that takes many years to develop to a good standard. Many ringers learned as children, however that is not the case with several of our band including myself, who was nearly 40 (positively ancient!) when I learnt.

Anyone can learn to ring whatever their age, although there are 130 steps up to the ringing room! At the Cathedral we have 12 bells, although we often ring on 10 or 8 depending on the ringers available. We meet every Monday evening to practice from 7.30-9pm and are always keen to welcome new members. Ringing the Cathedral bells is a privilege and I am pleased to arrange for the bells to be rung at times of national importance as well as for regular service. We marked the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh last year, as well as joining with other cathedrals to bring the country’s attention to the issue of Climate change when we rang for the start of COP26. Church bells are part of the sound scape of our towns, cities and countryside, they were much missed during lockdown and I have been touched by the happy, thankful and positive comments we have received since we returned to ringing.

I took on the role of ringing Master in 2019, but I was a member of the Cathedral Company for several years before that. The Cathedral ringers come from a wide geographical area and all ring at other churches, which can make arranging Sunday service ringing difficult, as there are many more bells requiring ringing on a Sunday morning than there are ringers to ring them! When people reach a certain standard of ringing and require a greater challenge of ringing on higher numbers of bells, they come along to the Cathedral on a practice night. Once they have rung for at least three Sunday services they are considered Cathedral Volunteers, this is the route I took to becoming a volunteer in 2013.

The lovely thing about bell ringing is that it is a social activity, you cannot ring 12 bells on your own! You get to meet a wide variety of people and you get the opportunity to encourage learning and challenge yourself to improve within a supportive and positive environment, plus we go to the pub after practice! Bell ringing is such an important part of the Cathedral’s public presence in the City, the bells ring before service to welcome people and to remind them that the Church is there and active in the middle of the city. They ring at times of National importance which draws the community of the city together and I love being part of that outreach.

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

An interview with Sue Mashford, Volunteer Guide

I am a tour guide in the Cathedral. I spent my working life as a maths teacher in secondary schools in and around Peterborough. When I was approaching retirement age I began to think about what I would do next, and after a stint in a charity shop, I realised that I needed to do something where I was not so subject to other people’s management skills. On coming across a flyer about volunteering at the Cathedral in Sunday’s café I realised what it would be.

I joined the training course for new guides in October 2019. We had just about finished the lessons and practice phase, and were on track for the assessment phase, when we went into the first lockdown. By then I wanted to know everything about the history of Peterborough and the building that is now the Cathedral, so I spent the next three months reading. I bought some books, but I used Wikipedia so much that I felt obliged to make them a donation. I did know some stuff, having been a teacher for 40 years, but I gradually discovered how much more there was to know; from Saxon kingdoms and Christianity, medieval building development, the importance of saints and holy relics, the Reformation, the Civil War, eighteenth and nineteenth century developments in the Church of England, right up to modern methods of restoration and analysis.

When in October 2020, it was decided that the trainee guides could be considered actual guides, I started putting my research into practice. Every tour is different because the people are all individuals, but they have all been an absolute delight. Every visitor has been interested in the stories about the stones and the people; they have all had something to contribute, and have, I hope, taken away a desire to know more. I have absolutely loved being able tell people facts they hadn’t known, and learning new things myself. I have relished the freedom to explore the building and its history, in and every time I go in, I see something that I hadn’t seen before, or realise something I hadn’t thought of before.

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 Pearce, Library volunteer

The Cathedral Library

“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 Denyer, Welcomer Desk volunteer

Shirley Denyer (right) at the Welcome Desk

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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