Let’s take a look at some of the things that happened in the world of Bradford Cathedral in 2021


2021 started with marking Epiphany and we also began our ‘Photo A Day‘ on Instagram, with a new photo taken in and around the Cathedral every day. We posted a good news story about a former choral scholar and we prepared for the flooring work to rejuvenate the wooden floor. On the 11th January we marked ‘Heritage Treasures Day‘ with a video looking at our heritage story from 2020, and on the same day Andy McCarthy marked his first day as our new Chief Operating Officer with a tweet! We also welcomed Jasmin Brearton as the new Executive Assistant and Sharon Link as our Income Development Officer in the same month.

On the 19th January we held a Eucharist to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and on the 21st we held the first of the Start course sessions.

As the month neared its end, we held a joint commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day and launched the first of our Cathedral 101 videos all about Candlemas (which would also be used on Radio Station UCB 2). The Candlemas Carol Service was also held on the last day of January.

Finally, on the 26th January 2021 the UK passed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. There was a response by the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, with prayers from the clergy at Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon Cathedrals.


February saw many events and services, including organ recitals with our Director of Music Alexander Berry and Assistant Director of Music Graham Thorpe; the Racial Justice Sunday service; and the Ash Wednesday Communion, all held against a backdrop of changing rules and advice due to the continuing COVID-19 situation.

The Dean marked the passing of Captain Tom and the Friends of Bradford Cathedral kindly donated £5000 towards the Parish Room development. Alongside videos to mark Shrove TuesdayAsh Wednesday and Lent, the Saturday Singers also recorded a version of ‘My Lighthouse‘.

Against a backdrop of continuing floor works and live-streaming, the two Christmas trees from 2020-21 became the cross for Lent 2021. There would also be continuing work looking at events for Autumn 2021, an online shop and much more.

As we neared the end of the month, we opened up applications for a new digital post, and started to mark Fairtrade Fortnight. The Sanctus bell was rung on the day of Captain Tom’s funeral and we opened up a competition to rename the Saturday Singers. A new book – ‘Every Day Bradford‘ was released which included many historical pieces about the Cathedral.

Finally, on February 28th, the Very Revd Jerry Lepine, the Dean of Bradford, announced he would retire in Summer 2021.


At the start of March we held an online Fairtrade Breakfast plus a special online service to mark International Women’s Day. We also debuted a new 360-degree image every day on our website and Facebook.

There were also two new performances by Grace Notesthe new name for the Saturday Singers. Libby, who oversees the group, also appeared on the new BBC Radio Bradford station. Two of our choristers and one of our Saturday Singers, who study at Dixons Music Primary, were part of one of the finalists for the LNER Song for Yorkshire, released early in March, which would go on to win the competition!

On March 15th the Dean said a prayer for Sarah Everard and videos were released for a schools’ Easter serviceChaperone recruitment, and World Poetry Day, and on March 23rd we marked the National Day of Reflection on the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 lockdown, which was covered on several local radio stations and included a lighting of candles at home.

We ended the month by holding the Diocesan Lady Day service and providing an updating on the Cathedral building works. There were also videos to mark William Morris’ birthday and Earth Hour, plus there was an online singing lesson created by Libby for the choristers.

As Holy Week began, the Dean recorded a special message to welcome everyone to the services as slow changes were made to how many could come to services in person.

March ended with a series of videos created, including an 8-day Holy Week journey, a new Grace Notes piece, and a video all about Maundy Money, alongside daily streamed services and prayers. We also supported the Inn Churches Food Challenge 21.


April began with the Diocesan Chrism Service taking place on the first day. The Cathedrals Cycle Route was announced and the Easter Garden was created. Our Messy Easter: A Journey Through Holy Week debuted online and the Easter Cross was decorated with daffodils.

The flowers team and Head Verger put the finishing touches to the Easter cross.

On April 9th the Dean released a statement for mark the loss of Prince Philip, with a series of services held during the period of mourning as well as a chance for people to pray in the building.

Later in the month, the music department held a virtual singing lesson for schools and we held a Vocations Sunday service. Also, the placement students from Mirfield Theological College finished their placements, having each preached a sermon during 2021.

The Revd Kerry Tankard was also installed as Ecumenical Canon by Bishop Nick at Bradford Cathedral and the art of Kintsugi was the theme of a sermon by the Revd Dr Toby Haworth, Bishop of Bradford.

As April came to a close, Mike de Villiers of the Eco Group provided a short update on Earth Day and we opened up applications for new choral scholars.


The Yorkshire Tykes bell ringers

At the start of May Dance United used the grounds of the Cathedral for rehearsals and on World Fairtrade Day members of our Eco Group showcased how they support Fairtrade. On May 11th the anniversary of the Bradford City FC fire was commemorated with an online service and later we held our Ascension Day service.

We were successful in May with a grant from the Cathedral Music Trust and our annual meetings were held. Preliminary work was done on the new bee hotel for an event in June and we continued to look ahead to the Cathedrals Cycle Route, as cyclists, including Revd John Kime, started appearing at the Cathedral. We also held our Renewal of Giving service and welcomed Katie Glover to the team. English Tourism Week also took place near the end of the month and we welcomed the Leeds Minster Society of Change Ringers to ring our bells (see above). Diane Pacitti’s book Dark Angelic Mills was reviewed in the Church Times.

Finally, we marked the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd with a reflection from the Dean and a discussion with Prof Udy Archibong. We also began our Encountering God series of blogs, and held a couple of organ recitals.


We began June by marking National Volunteering Week with a series of videos with some of our volunteers, as well as a series of short videos to mark World Environment Day.

Just before that, welcomed lots of riders from York Minster to the Cathedral and then set off on our very own leg of the Cathedrals Cycle Relay to Wakefield Cathedral, via Dewsbury Minster.

The Bradford > Wakefield Cathedral Cycle Relay team

We continued the environmental theme with our World Environment Day bug hotel session, and you can see highlights from the day below!

The new book Bradford in Photographs was released, including a shot of the Cathedral and bassoonist Laurence Perkins performed at our first concert of 2021, which was held alongside a short organ recital series.

On the 15th June the new Acting Dean was announced and we held the exhibition We Cannot Walk Alone as part of Refugee Week. There was also a short service to mark Armed Forces Week in City Park.

The month came to an end with several services, including an Ordination of Priests, a combined Remembrance Service For Armed Services Week, a Civic Service of thanksgiving for the years in office of The Lord Mayor of the City of Bradford, plus a Grace Notes evening service.


July saw the continuation of music events and the return of Sacred Music as part of the Bradford Literature Festival. We also welcomed ACT back on site for their outdoor performances of Hamlet.

On July 4th we held the Diocesan and Civic Farewell to Dean Jerry and on the day after the Dean rang the Sanctus bell to mark NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers Day 2021.

Bradford Cathedral, as painted by Elspeth Manders
Bradford Cathedral, as painted by Elspeth Manders

In July we also spoke to artist Elspeth Manders who had painted the Cathedral as part of her exhibition, and we held a Civic Service to give thanks for all who have served the District during the pandemic.

On July 10th the Cross Walk ’21 was held in the city and the week after photographs of the Cathedral featured in a Mencap exhibition held at Kala Sangam. There was also a leavers’ service created for schools and the final Eucharist with Dean Jerry. He also wrote a piece that was in the Telegraph and Argus.

On the 19th July our opening hours were extended as guidance changed and we report on more success for a former choral scholar. The Sound Season exhibition began at the National Science and Media Museum, and the Cathedral featured as part of one of the exhibits.


The Choral Scholars for 2021-22

In August the Reimaging our Ministry appeal was launched and the Queens’ College Chapel Choir performed in the Cathedral. Yorkshire Day was marked, and we had a visit from the verger of Chester Cathedral. We also welcomed Canon Philip Gray to the Cathedral and held a free film showing as part of the city-wide Bradford Family Film Fiesta.

At the end of the month we welcomed three new choral scholars to the Cathedral.


September saw a series of events happening in the Cathedral, including Aire Valley Arts’ ‘Unfolding’ exhibition and Lindisfarne performing live, alongside the return of the Faith Trail. We also held a Yorkshire-themed Heritage Open Day, attended freshers’ fairs at the College and University, hosted the Bradford Grammar Foundation Day, and nearer the end of the month the Eucharist included the Commissioning of Stewards.

The Yorkshire Tykes practiced in the Cathedral ahead of them competing in a national bell-ringing competition, and our welcomers returned to the Cathedral on the 6th September.

More cyclists continued to visit the Cathedral, and Bradford Cathedral appeared as part of the cityscape on some new planters at the University of Bradford.

Members of the Bradford Cathedral community at the 2021 ‘Climate Emergency Walk’

We supported the Climate Emergency Walk held in the city, and the Riding for Adam cyclists arrived at the Cathedral at the end of part one of their national ride. We also marked the International Week of the Deaf with a signed Eucharist and sermon.

The month ended with Mike de villiers appearing on BBC Look North, talking about our woodland project.


Members of the ‘Sand In Your Eye’ team with the Bradford Cathedral pumpkins

In October we held a film showing as part of National Science and Media Museum’s 25th anniversary of the Widescreen Weekend as well as the annual Saying Goodbye Service and Immanuel Prize Giving, plus the autumn half-term activities, a vintage fair and was one of the stops on the Bradford BID pumpkin festival. We also hosted Diocesan Synod.

The month began with our Harvest celebrations, and we debuted a brand new video for World Architecture Day.

On October 8th Bradford was named as one of the final eight in the City of Culture 2025 competition and Canon Paul, Acting Dean, commented. In October we also welcomed Satwant and his fellow cyclists as part of their 4th Anniversary celebration of the Bolton Road Community Cycling Club.

Our Director of Music, Alexander Berry, was elected in October to be a representative at General Synod and Canon Philip spoke at a service for Sir David Amess MP.

The Diocesan Youth Pilgrimages launched in October and our shop re-opened, with our Christmas Cards for 2021 launched.

Baron Neil Mendoza, visiting the Cathedral.

As the month neared its end, we welcome Baron Neil Mendoza to the Cathedral as part of his visit to the city. We also launched a video all about our gardening team.


November saw us holding many events, including hosting the BDAT conference. We held our annual Fauré’s Requiem Eucharist, the latest De Lacy Lecture, with Bishop Nick speaking on the theme of This Rough Magic: God, the arts and hope, and held a Cathedral Climate Lunch around the time of COP 26. November also saw the return of the Monday Fellowship meeting.

The big event of the month, though, was the Light Organ as part of the Bradford is LiT festival, which saw over 1,500 people visit the Cathedral.

The 75th Annual Festival of Remembrance also took place in November – and it was also broadcast on Premier Radio, and BBEC held their Awards Evening.

November also saw the successful funding of our Reimaging our Ministry appeal, and the launch of the Bradford BID Gift Card which can be spent at the Cathedral’s shop.

We also celebrated the life of Dr. Rudi Leavor BEM in November, after his passing earlier in the year, and marked the loss of congregation member and volunteer Bori Benko.

Nearer the end of the month the Kehillah exhibition opened and there was more on our woodland project.

Finally, as November came to a close, our Christmas trees arrived, we hosted the closing night of the 2021 DFFB, and Hipperholme held their Speech Night with us. National Tree Week saw Mike de Villiers plant a tree as part of a big local event, and our Advent services and events began with Messy Advent. The de Lacy Centre also opened after a period of refurbishment.


Revd Andy Bowerman

December saw a month full of online and in-person Advent and Christmas services and events, including the Christmas Eve Carol concert, the City Carols service and the BBC Radio Leeds Carol service. We sent our chorister elves around the city on Instagram and Twitter, and held a special Christmas organ recital.

Congregation member and volunteer Catherine Warr featured in a new YouTube campaignand we saw the announcement of Revd Andy Bowerman as our new Dean, who will start in 2022.

There were also lots of school visits, we released new videos of choir recordings, and our choir featured behind door 18 on the Cathedral Music Trust’s Advent Calendar.

Canon Paul also featured on BCB Radio talking about Advent and Christmas, and we featured in a Yorkshire Post piece about our environmental work.

What were your highlights or favourite moments from 2021? Let us know in the comments below!

You can see more highlights from 2021 by checking out our fortnightly Bradford Cathedral Scrapbooks!

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