Peterborough Cathedral takes inspiration from the past as it continues to reach to the stars to create legacy for the future

Peterborough will continue to reach for the stars as the city searches for a lasting legacy after a record breaking year as Peterborough Cathedral celebrated its 900th anniversary.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 3:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:32 pm
Dean Chris Dalliston and Council chief executive Gillian Beasley take part in the abseil

Thousands of people filed through Peterborough Cathedral as the historic building marked the special anniversary with a huge range of events - with the highlight being the arrival of the Soyuz space capsule which took British astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station - and back to Earth.

Now there are plans to capitalise on the success of the 900 celebrations - and create a legacy that Peterborions will remember 900 years into the future.

The centrepiece of the plans will be a new Peterborough Celebrates Endowment Fund, with organisers hoping to raise £1 million in five years.

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Dean Chris Dalliston and Council chief executive Gillian Beasley take part in the abseil

The fund will be used to help major projects in the city in the future.

Richard Astle, chair of the Peterborough Together Partnership, said it was vital to have something to build on following last year’s success.

He said: “We always thought there should be a legacy from 900. Something that could be around in 2918. We thought the people who were creating the Cathedral knew they would not be about to see it completed, but were doing it for the good of the city.

“We thought about a statue or a work of art- but those things are subjective, and could be divisive.

The Museum of the Moon

“So we thought an endowment fund, that could pay out to good causes in Peterborough year on year, could be the way forward.

“We have had some big pledges from corporate companies, and will be fully launching in the spring. We want to get to £1 million in five years.

“We have the idea that it can be used for big projects in the city - for example, tackling childhood obesity. But it will be spent in the Peterborough area, as it defined now.”

The endowment fund is not the only way the 900th anniversary will leave a lasting memory in the city.

The world record attempt for the most fairies in one place

Later this year, a campaign to get children reading will be launched - to be called Peterborough Celebrates Reading.

The campaign will run throughout the next academic year, and see a range of activities in the city centre.

Richard Hunt, director of culture at Vivacity, said: “We all know the problems we have with education in the city - there are multiple and complex reasons for it - but we all have a role to play in helping.

“We thought ‘what can we do as a city to improve reading.

Tim Peake at the Cathedral with the Soyuz capsule

“So we are launching Peterborough Celebrates Reading in the summer. We have already got some big partners on board, like Queensgate, (arts organisation) Metal and Peterborough Cathedral.

“We are going to have book benches, trails, authors coming to Peterborough - lots of things o get people reading.”

Memories of a special year

The Dean of Peterborough the Very Rev Chris Dalliston had more reasons than most to remember the 900 celebrations - as he only took up his role at the start of 2018.

Rev Dalliston said: “It has been a breathless year. We arrived in January and it has never stopped.

“It has been wonderful to welcome so many people into the Cathedral, and to learn its story, and that of the city.

“We want to go on celebrating what we have here. We have a complex and diverse city. We are at a pivotal point for our country - we don’t know what will emerge, but we are a resilient city, and the Cathedral is a key point in that - it is the spiritual heart that holds the city together.

“This year we have had more people come through than ever before. Our Christmas service attendances were record breaking.”

Rev Dalliston said there were a number of highlights from his first year as Dean during the 900 celebrations.

He said; “The high point was Tim Peake and his Soyuz coming - it got people thinking about religion, faith and science, which was fantastic.

“The Museum of the Moon was an amazing installation in the Cathedral, that really inspired people.

“The abseil down the side of the Cathedral was great too. We had the Royal Wedding the same weekend, and to see so many people in the sunshine outside the Cathedral was very special.

“Another highlight was the world record attempt for the most fairies in one place at the cathedral, with Anna’s Hope.

“From beginning to end it has been a wonderful year.”