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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 5 June 2016 Posted on Sunday 5 June 2016

*The below message is taken from the weekly Cathedral Record newsletter. The full Cathedral Record is available to pick up from the Cathedral or can be downloaded here.*

After a relatively quiet week in Cathedral House with the Choir and members of the Music Department having a well deserved half term break, and the two junior clergy away on what they called a ‘retreat’, things have started to hot up again for June, including the weather I am pleased to say. The Cathedral site and its grounds always look so much nicer in the sun, and it’s a wonderful sight to see people sitting on the steps at lunchtime taking in the full view of Hope Street whilst having their lunch and a drink.

We have recently been assessed against the national standards of the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme (VAQAS). Basically an appraiser tests everything a visitor may expect to find at a visitor attraction from the moment they arrive until they leave. No stone is left unturned when an unannounced assessor interacts with individual members of staff without revealing themselves so that they experience exactly what the visitor might when they decide to drop by. They asses every facet of their visit from the welcome they receive, the customer service in the Gift Shop, right through to how easy it is to find the car park. Then comes the hard bit! The feedback! Each attraction is given detailed feedback and recommendations where needed. The Quality Rose Marque is only awarded if the assessor is happy that all areas important to the visit are of the best standard. The assessor comes on one day in 365 so it is really a very short snap shot of what we have to offer. The recommendations contained in the report that follows the visit are extremely useful and are not meant to criticise us in anyway, merely to enhance the experience and attractions, though admittedly you can’t help but feel a bit miffed over some of the things they pick up.

I am pleased to tell you that overall we did extremely well. We scored higher than we did last year and are well on our way to achieving a higher accreditation next year. The report is lengthy but filled with positive comments – a few of which I have noted here, ‘… a particular strength of the visit was the unique architecture of the modern Cathedral and the magnificent, vaulted Lutyens’ Crypt …the underground car park was a significant asset. Excellent standards of cleanliness were maintained throughout…. knowledgeable and enthusiastic Guides ensured an informed, supportive and highly enjoyable visit. The quality of the Treasury was exceptional….standards of decor within the Cathedral were impeccable….maintenance standards were extremely high …all staff and volunteers were extremely smart and well presented.’ That’s pretty good! A huge thank you to all our extremely talented and gifted staff and volunteers who always go the extra mile whether we are inspected or not! Look out for a few subtle changes.

It will be even more important to get things right next year as this time in 12 months we will be celebrating our Golden Jubilee of the Cathedral and there will be lots of special events, festivals, concerts and exhibitions to whet your appetite. Keep reading the newsletter for more regular updates. One concert that you won’t have to wait a year for is ‘Heavenly Voices’ which features the Girl Choristers of our Cathedral and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin. There will be excerpts from Stabat Mater, Pergolesi and music by Rutter, Franck and others. It is all happening on Saturday 11 June at 7.00pm at Our Lady of the Annunciation, Bishop Eton. Admission is free although there will be a retiring collection. Do come along and support it if you can.

This week’s bulletin was written by Claire Hanlon, Assistant to the Dean, as Canon Anthony O’Brien is away.