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‘The People’s Cathedral’

25 October 2013

IT IS nice to be remembered, even though I was only one of 200,000 people who bought a brick (or two) to build Guildford Cathedral, all those years ago. Mind you, it was nearly completed at that time, in the early 1960s - a great spacious structure on the top of Stag Hill. Now, half a century later, it needs £7 million for "urgent repairs, removing acoustic plaster throughout the ceiling containing asbestos, and to protect the cathedral for current and future generations".

A project will record the history and memories of the building and the "unique story of the 200,000 brick-givers whose generosity completed the building of 'The People's Cathedral'". They have put in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £4.5 million, and so far they have received £329,100 from the HLF towards submitting a full application for funding next year, with a view to starting work in 2015.

Now they have launched an appeal for a further £2.2 million, of which £1.3 million is partnership funding for the Lottery bid. They have the support of the actor Penelope Keith as vice-president of the appeal.

Work on the ceiling asbestos is urgent, and I am assured that it can be done safely, without any risk to the stream of daily visitors. A section that had been penetrated by damp had recently to be removed, entailing massive scaffolding and the sealing-off of that portion of the roof.

The Dean, the Very Revd Dianna Gwilliams, is delighted at the indication of support from the Lottery Fund: "The building is at risk, and this is the first vital step towards both its repair and to secure its future."

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