Ellen and Lynda

Ellen McKessock and Canon Lynda Barley standing outside the old cathedral school

Over the last few weeks, we have been reacting, both as a cathedral, as a country and as a world, to the coronavirus pandemic, and adjusting to the very different world in which we find ourselves. It has in many ways focussed our attention like nothing else, and other aspects of our common life may well have been put to one side. Well, one thing we cannot ignore is acknowledging that we have said and are saying goodbye to two people who have had the cathedral at their heart for many years.

Firstly, Ellen. Ellen officially retired on 31st March, but of course there could be no farewell party to celebrate her time with us because the lockdown was in full swing by then. Ellen began working at the cathedral in 2009 as finance officer, but following the departure of Alan Wallace, became the director of operations of the cathedral in 2014, having been in the acting role of that post for six months before that. Ellen brought with her great commitment and dedication, and her time oversaw two major developments. Firstly, the continuing journey we find ourselves on in becoming a cathedral organisation that is fit and prepared for the rapidly changing world taking place around us (no matter what consequences there will be from the pandemic). We have begun to put financial and governance systems in place that will ensure we are able to respond to the challenges before us with growing confidence. Secondly, Ellen oversaw the re-development of the Old Cathedral School, and the transfer of the cathedral offices as there, as well as its development in the educational life of the cathedral and diocese. To everything she brought her calm yet determined manner to launch us on this journey.

Secondly, Lynda. Lynda was appointed canon pastor in 2011, and although her diocesan role changed in the time she has been with us, her commitment to the cathedral on, it has to be remembered, two days a week (officially!), has been second to none. She has overseen the development and expansion of the pastoral network of the cathedral into a wonderful team of carers, visitors and communion assistants, who form an indispensable part of our care for each other. She has been instrumental in developing our awareness of social issues in the wider community, especially in the areas of the environment, the homeless and dementia awareness, and she has also been pivotal in implementing safeguarding training and awareness within the life of the cathedral. All this whilst being a parish priest and, latterly, a rural dean! Her own personal care for others has been instinctive and generous, starting, among other things, the monthly Sunday lunches to the William IV. In all of these things she has been devotedly assisted by Chris, and we thank him as well for his unstinting support.

Lynda presided at the online eucharist on 19th April, her last Sunday, and whilst we couldn’t have a party to celebrate her time with us, I am sure that at some time in the future, we will be able to get together as a community, as we will for Ellen, to thank them both corporately for all they have done for us.

I, personally, want to pass my thanks to both Ellen and Lynda for their contributions to the life of the cathedral, and especially for the support they have shown me. Both of them have enriched my life, and I count their friendship as being very special indeed. I know I speak for many others when I say that we will them both very much indeed, and we wish them both the happiest of retirements.