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A farewell and a return

by Michael Ford last modified 14 May, 2021 04:45 PM

Last weekend was a big weekend for our Cathedral, as the NHS vaccination team, who have played a big part in Cathedral life over the past few months, said goodbye on Saturday 1st May, and ‘in person’ choral worship resumed on Sunday 2nd May.

A farewell and a return

Original photo by Ash Mills

After the final session, the Sarum South Primary Care Network vaccination operation moved across the Close to another Cathedral building, Leaden Hall. The building, which is used by the education team for schools workshops and by staff for large meetings, will be transformed into a vaccine hub in the next phase of the roll-out.

The Cathedral resumed ‘in person’ choral worship on Sunday 2nd May, and prepares to re-open to visitors later in the month.

The departure of NHS colleagues did not go unmarked. A special farewell ceremony was held at the end of Saturday’s session, where the Dean of Salisbury Nicholas Papadopulos and Bishop Nicholas thanked the team for all they have done for the community. Each participating practice received a print of the Patrick Blower cartoon featuring the Cathedral as a vaccine centre, first published in the Telegraph back in January.

Dean Nicholas said:

“We will be sad to see the NHS team go. Their distinctive blue cubicles, vaccinators and volunteers have become a familiar sight in and around the Cathedral, along with the thousands of patients turning up for their jabs. Their story is and will remain part of our story forever.”

Dr Michele Giorgi, Joint Clinical Director of Sarum South PCN, said:

“We would like to thank the Cathedral for being amazing hosts for this exceptional programme, the staff and volunteers could not have done more to help the vaccination teams. It has been a truly memorable experience for all involved.”

Bishop Nicholas said:

“It has been a privilege to witness the vaccination rollout not just here in the Cathedral, but across the diocese, and to observe the ways in which the community and medical professions have worked selflessly towards a common goal. It is equally joyous to be returning to choral worship ‘in person’. Music is a precious expression of God’s love and to be able to gather and hear it once again is wonderful.”

The return to ‘in person’ choral worship has also been welcomed by the Cathedral’s Director of Music, David Halls and his Assistant Director, John Challenger. The pair have forged a special bond with the NHS team. spending hundreds of hours at the organ console providing a soothing musical backdrop to the vaccination sessions.

David Halls, Salisbury Cathedral’s Director of Music said:

“Being near the frontline during this extraordinary health campaign has been an honour and having the opportunity to contribute in some small way to defeating this pandemic has been both moving and humbling. However, we are first and foremost cathedral musicians and choral music is at the heart of our daily worship. To be able to return to some semblance of normality in that respect is wonderful. We have missed it.”

This Sunday will be the first time the choir has sung with a congregation present since Christmas, and it also marks the beginning of a career in the choir for three probationers or trainee choristers. The three girls will be admitted as full choristers during Evensong at 4.30pm on Sunday 2nd May, a personal achievement for all three and a historic day for the Cathedral.

Social distancing regulations remain in place and numbers able to worship together in the Cathedral are still limited. Booking for services remains essential and face masks must be worn inside the Cathedral. Congregational singing is not yet allowed.

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