I SUSPECT that Durham is the only cathedral
with its own rocking horse. It has just been given a handsome one
by an 84-year-old maker of rocking horses from London.
When Derek Thorp visited Durham to see the Lindisfarne Gospels
last year, he remembered that a former fellow-airman with whom he
had served in Singapore had had connections with the cathedral; so
he made some enquiries and managed to get in touch with him.
He discovered that George Hetherington, a former cathedral
chorister, was one of the volunteer stewards in the cathedral; so
the two former comrades were able to meet again. "It was lovely to
see George, and catch up on each other's lives," Mr Thorp said.
"While we were chatting, I mentioned that I've spent my retirement
making rocking horses. By the end of the conversation, we had
decided it would be nice to donate one to Durham Cathedral, and so
I started working on it as soon as I got home."
Mr Thorp recently returned to the cathedral to present it, and
the horse will now be used by the cathedral's education team when
working with schoolchildren and other young visitors. They say that
it will be particularly useful during sessions about St Aidan, who
famously received the gift of a horse from King Oswin, but gave it
to the first beggar in need whom he came across.