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Kind act of cathedral staff wins a volunteer

29 January 2016

DURHAM CATHEDRAL

DOROTHY DAVIS, who was comforted by staff at Durham Cathedral after her fiancé suffered a fatal heart attack, plans to repay the kindness she was shown by working there as a volunteer.

Next month, Mrs Davis will make the first of what she wants to be a regular 300-mile round-trip, from her home in Nottingham to the north-east, to interview people for the cathedral’s oral-history project.

Mrs Davis, who is 65, and whose grandfather was a Durham miner, met her fiancé Peter, 61, who lived in Durham, two years ago. They became engaged 12 months later. Last spring, while visiting Peter, she decided to volunteer for the history programme, and, in May, attended a training day at the cathedral.

“During that day, I got a telephone call telling me that Peter had only a few hours left to live,” she said. “I didn’t feel I could go to the hospital yet, as his family were with him, and they didn’t really know me. The [cathedral] staff asked me what I wanted to do.

“I asked to go into the cathedral. . . An amazing volunteer manager and her assistant took me in, and a marvellous chaplain looked after me. We lit a candle, and went into a small chapel which is set aside for private prayer.

“I knew that Peter was not going to get better, and that, if I had to have this awful news, this was the right place to be. They were just so supportive. I can never say thank-you enough.”

Mrs Davis decided that she would continue on the history programme. “I never thought I would not go back to Durham,” she said. “The cathedral is such an amazing place — you just have to go back.”

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