A donation from Queensgate Shopping Centre has enabled Peterborough Cathedral to commission a new, large scale nativity set for display outside in the Portico at the West Front.
The cathedral and Queensgate have been working on a project for the set to be made in the workshops at HMP Peterborough as part of the residents’ programme of rehabilitation.
The nativity is expected to be in place for Christmas next year which will tie in with the cathedral’s programme of activity leading up to its 900th anniversary in 2018.
Canon Jonathan Baker of Peterborough Cathedral said: “The combination of Queensgate Shopping Centre’s donation and the recent work to open up the Porticos at the West Front of the cathedral present a tremendous opportunity to do something very creative and well suited to the space.
“The nativity set will be designed for an outdoor space so that it can be seen by passers-by, rather than hidden away inside the cathedral. We are very grateful to Queensgate Shopping Centre for giving us this opportunity and are looking forward to working with the prison.”
Queensgate has said the donation it is making is worth thousands of pounds.
Original plans to relocate the existing nativity scene from Queensgate to the cathedral were hindered when the scene was inspected. “Unfortunately, the nativity scene had seen better days and it was felt unsuitable for the Portico,” said Mark Broadhead, centre director at Queensgate.
“I am delighted that we can support a commission to Peterborough Prison, who I have no doubt will produce something of lasting value as the cathedral moves towards its 900th anniversary in 2018.”
Paul Cunningham, the business development manager at HMP YOI Peterborough, said: “We are very grateful and excited to be involved in this project which will allow our residents to be part of something which enables them to give something back to the local community whilst gaining further skills and qualifications to equip them for when they are released.”
The director of the prison, Nick Leader, added: “We are proud of our links in Peterborough and this work, supported by Queensgate, will be a great way of recognising the special link we have with Peterborough Cathedral.”
Although the new nativity set will not be ready until Christmas 2016, Canon Baker said: “Our message to people wanting to visit the nativity this year is to come and visit the cathedral and join in with the many services and events going on here.”
Leaflets about Advent and Christmas events at the cathedral can be picked up at the Queensgate centre.
Mark Broadhead from Queensgate added: “Peterborough Cathedral is such an important part of the city centre and, as one of our biggest neighbours, we want to be there to support them, especially as we lead up to their 900th anniversary. The nativity is the start of an ongoing, much stronger partnership that will embrace the fantastic work and ethos embedded within the historic cathedral.”