The campaign to save Guildford Cathedral - Make your mark

Dame Penelope Keith (Photo: Andy Newbold)

Dame Penelope Keith (Photo: Andy Newbold) - Credit: Archant

Surrey residents have been busy ‘making their mark’ in recent months as part of the campaign to secure the future of Guildford Cathedral. Here we meet a few of the supporters to find out what this iconic building means to them

Bishop Ian

Bishop Ian - Credit: Archant

The celebrity patron...

After the construction of Guildford Cathedral was interrupted by World War Two, completion was only made possible when more than 200,000 people ‘bought a brick’.

Among them was the actress Dame Penelope Keith, who now lives locally in Milford and is a vice president of the cathedral’s latest appeal, Make Your Mark, to raise money for vital repairs.

“I drove down from London with a friend in the late Sixties and bought a brick for half a crown, ” says Penelope. “It was terribly exciting to have this wonderful new building after the war because there was so little around then. And now we’re appealing to a new generation to make their mark.

Frances Dawson

Frances Dawson - Credit: Archant

“Everyone is working hard to reach the target. The Dean, the Very Reverend Dianna Gwilliams, has even done a sponsored abseil down the spire – though I would have paid her not to do it!”


The Bishop...

Bishop Ian Brackley completed a 30-mile sponsored walk across the Pilgrims’ Way, raising over £2,700 for the Make Your Mark appeal.

Catherine and James Perkins

Catherine and James Perkins - Credit: Archant

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“The high points were literally the high points, as we saw parts of Surrey you can only see by doing these routes,” he says of the gruelling walk, which took him three days to complete.

“It’s not about sponsoring me though; it’s about recognising that the cathedral is a place worth supporting.

“Sitting on the hill, it was quite a statement really, building Guildford Cathedral where it now stands. I think it’s saying something about the nature of what it means to be a Christian – to be a member of the Church of England in this part of the world.

“This is the Diocese of Guildford and this is its main church, and it needs support and care, so let’s support it and care for it.”

Cadenza Youth Choir and the Surrey Advanced Brass Ensemble

Cadenza Youth Choir and the Surrey Advanced Brass Ensemble - Credit: Archant


The voluntary guide...

Original brick-giver and Guildford resident, Frances Dawson, has been a voluntary guide welcoming guests to Guildford Cathedral for many years. She is also a keen fund-raiser and has raised funds for the Make Your Mark appeal by organising a teddies’ birthday fund-raising event.

Frances, who remembers the cathedral being built, says: “If friends visited, we took them to see the building work that was going on. I have fond memories of those trips. My friends and I were very interested to see all the activity; it was great to see the interest in the building being awoken.

“I remember a little green hut, which served refreshments, and people had a chance to ask questions about the cathedral and make donations.

“I think the completion of this great new cathedral gave people hope in a time when many had suffered great loss during and after the war.”


The young supporters...

Having joined the boys’ choir of Guildford Cathedral when he was seven, James Perkins has sung at about 900 services – with highlights being a visit from the Queen, tours to the Netherlands and USA and a live Radio 3 broadcast earlier this year.

“The cathedral is a really big part of my life,” says James. “I want it to be there for hundreds of years to come, like Durham or Winchester, so I am doing everything I can to support the appeal. For my confirmation, I asked my parents and godparents to give money for a ‘virtual brick’, instead of buying me a present. It will always be a reminder for me of the place that made me musical.”

Life as a chorister has had a big impact on James’s family too. His sister, Catherine, made her mark by writing a poem about how the cathedral appeals to all the senses – and to the soul.

“We are often here because of James – even on Christmas Day!” says Catherine. “So I’ve had a lot of time to think about what the cathedral means to me. It’s a meeting place and lots of people work here too (including me if I have homework to do while waiting for my brother). It would be terrible if the cathedral had to close.

“Many visitors are proud of the fact that they bought a brick to help build Guildford Cathedral. I hope I will be able to tell my children and grandchildren about how my poem helped to keep it alive.”




The musicians...

The Cadenza Youth Choir and the Surrey Advanced Brass Ensemble (SABE) raised more than £1,500 for the Make Your Mark appeal last Christmas by giving a concert in the cathedral.

“I spent six years as a chorister of Guildford Cathedral from the age of seven and received a musical education that was second to none,” says Tim Peters, the director of Cadenza and a member of SABE. “The experience has shaped my life and given me numerous skills and opportunities.

“Both of these groups, the Cadenza Youth Choir and SABE, are made up entirely of teenagers and it was thrilling for us to be able to have the space to perform together and give a concert in such magnificent surroundings.”


Get in touch:

Let us know what Guildford Cathedral means to you by writing to the usual addresses. 

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Need to know...

The Make Your Mark appeal is a major campaign to help raise funds for essential repairs to Guildford Cathedral. To get involved, see, contact the appeal office on 01483 547884 or send a cheque (payable to Guildford Cathedral) to Guildford Cathedral, Stag Hill, Guildford GU2 7UP.