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UK news in brief

28 February 2020


Out of the frying pan: choristers of Wells Cathedral toss pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, in the Vicars’ Close

Out of the frying pan: choristers of Wells Cathedral toss pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, in the Vicars’ Close


Priest to be President and Provost of UCL

THE new President and Provost of University College London (UCL) is to be the Revd Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, to which he returned, having studied there, in 2008. He will take up his new appointment next January. Dr Spence was ordained in 2006, and served as a non-stipendiary minister at St James and St Francis, Cowley, in Oxford diocese, after training at St Stephen’s House and reading for his doctorate at St Catherine’s College. UCL said that Dr Spence was an international leader in the field of intellectual-property theory.


Cathedrals at Night campaign launched

THE Association of English Cathedrals has launched an outreach campaign of free evening events at every Church of England cathedral, as well as Westminster Abbey, and St Davids and St Asaph cathedrals. It marks the Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage, 2020, and is based on a Continental model. The programme includes, for example, an exploration of the theme “Fully Alive” in Lichfield with the artist-in-residence, Peter Walker; “Pimms and Hymns” in Birmingham; and music and pilgrimage until late in Oxford. The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said: “Cathedrals At Night represents a new, co-ordinated approach to cathedral outreach and visitor engagement, which, we hope, will shine a light on cathedrals nationally, and help them individually.”

Full listing at www.englishcathedrals.co.uk


Down’s-syndrome group challenge abortion law

HEIDI CROWTER, who has Down’s syndrome, is initiating a legal challenge against allowing abortion up to birth for foetuses with the condition. She is bringing it with her mother, Liz, and Cheryl Bilsborrow, who has a two-year old with the syndrome. Ms Crowter spoke at a General Synod fringe meeting in London in 2018 (News, 9 February 2018), when she said: “All of us are fearfully and wonderfully made, and made in God’s image.” She said this week: “I am going to take the Government to court with other members of the Down’s syndrome community to make sure that people aren’t treated differently because of their disabilities.”



BBCHappy band: seven celebrity walkers are taking part in a new BBC2 Pilgrimage series, Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul, setting out from Belgrade. The group includes Adrian Chiles, Fatima Whitbread, and Edwina Currie


Churches issued with card-readers for contactless giving

THREE hundred Anglican churches across across England and Wales have received contactless card-readers for donations, through a scheme from Visa, SumUp, and Caution Your Blast. A trial scheme for contactless donations was organised more than two years ago (News, 23 March 2018). Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood, the C of E’s national adviser on giving and income generation, said this week that it was “important we enable people to give in the way they wish to give”.


IS supporter convicted for St Paul’s plot

A 36-YEAR-OLD woman, Safiyya Amira Shaikh (born Michelle Ramsden) of Hayes, in west London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey last week of preparing terrorist acts and disseminating terrorist publications. During undercover police operations, initially online, she revealed her intention of bombing St Paul’s Cathedral, possibly on “a day like Christmas or Easter”. She is to be sentenced in May.

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