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90th Anniversary Celebrations

90th Anniversary Celebrations

The Friends are the oldest organisation of its kind in the UK and celebrated 90 years of commitment and fundraising in 2017. A number of exciting events took place to commemorate The Friends’ achievements and celebrate our community.

The Friends’ Garden

Philip Oostenbrink, Head Gardener at the Cathedral, designed a beautiful, floral sanctuary open to Friends, visitors, and pilgrims throughout the year. The Garden is planted to be attractive to wildlife and provide year-round interest. The Garden has been created thanks to support from The Patron’s Fund.

The Garden is located near to the Memorial Garden at the east end of the Cathedral and is open all year round. The Friends are proud to be sharing this garden space with a statue of The Buff and are honoured to have received a contribution, towards the cost of planting, from various branches of The Queen’s Own Buffs Regimental Association.

The Dean’s Challenge

As part of our celebrations, the Very Rev. Dr. Robert Willis challenged all Friends to raise £90 for the 90 years of The Friends. Friends were encouraged to do this in sociable and creative ways and scores of them leapt to the Challenge! In total, £25,000 was raised and members of The Friends’ Council agreed that this money should be spent on the music of the Cathedral. So far, The Friends have used this money to support recitals by both the Girls’ Choir and the Cathedral Choir.

90 Hymns in 90 Minutes

Adrian Bawtree, Second Assistant Organist at the Cathedral and a Trustee on Friends’ Council, set himself a Challenge of being able to play 90 hymns in 90 minutes on Saturday 2nd December 2017! During October and November that year, Friends and all visitors to the Cathedral were asked to vote for their top 10 favourite hymns and a running tally of the ever-changing favourites was shown on a ‘Hymn-o-meter’ in the Cathedral. On the day of Challenge, the Quire was packed with Friends and visitors from all over the world who wondered if Adrian would achieve his goal. With a clock counting down in the Quire and hundreds of eager participants singing the first verse of every hymn, Adrian made it with two seconds to spare! To find out which hymns made it into the Top 90 – and which was number one most-voted for hymn – see here.

The Dean’s Own Challenge: Morning by Morning, He Wakens My Ear Isaiah 50, verse 4

On Saturday 25th November, the Dean took up his own Challenge by spending an evening with Friends in the Cathedral Lodge. In discussion with David Knight, the Dean reflected in words and music on his 25 years as Dean of Hereford and then Canterbury Cathedrals. It was a marvellous evening and the Dean raised £1500 for his Challenge!

The Big FRIENDly Sing

On 16th October 200 singers enjoyed a day of rehearsals of Handel’s Messiah with David Flood, Master of Cathedral Choristers. An early evening performance was attended by a big audience in the Nave. It proved to be a day of great enjoyment for all involved. As one singer said

It was a joy to sing in the Cathedral and very moving to take part in such a momentous performance. It is a day I shall never forget.

Thanks to everyone who took part and all those who came to the performance, over £5000 was raised for The Friends with The Big FRIENDly Sing.

STOP PRESS: Such was the success of this event that The Friends will be holding another Big FRIENDly Sing on 28th September 2019! For more information please email:

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