To date this year the Freemen have supported:

  • Trinity School (through the Mayor of Durham City Charity Appeal),
  • Durham Community Association,
  • The Nepal Earthquake Appeal
  • Save the Children for Syrian refugees.

We have also made our final financial contribution to the sponsorship of Peter Bennet's joinery apprenticeship with the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral. We look forward to Peter exercising his right to become a Freeman of the City in the coming year.

Wardens with Peter Bennett

Wardens with Peter Bennett at Durham Cathedral workshops

In 2012 Durham City Freemen worked with the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral to establish the sponsorship of a craft apprentice. The Dean and Chapter selected Peter Bennett from West Rainton and apprenticed him as a trainee Joiner. Peter began work on 26 March 2012. Throughout the 3 years that have past since then Peter has worked on a number of projects and attended college in pursuit of mastering his trade. We were delighted to learn that Peter will become a fully time-served Joiner late this year when the college course he has been attending comes to an end.

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Joe McElwee (Warden of the Company of Cordwainers) has been managing the sponsorship on behalf of the Freemen. Today, Joe was joined by John Booth (Plumbers Company and Website Manager), Geoff Kitson (Plumbers Company and Photographer) and John Heslop (Warden of the Curriers Company and Chairman of the Wardens) to meet Peter at his place of work and to look at the work that he and his colleagues are involved with.

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We had a very pleasant and interesting visit to a number of projects that are going on at the Cathedral and in which Peter is playing an active part. We were shown the gate that Peter has built which now regulates access to Prebends Bridge at the end of the Bailey.

We ascended the water tower on the green in the Cathedral Precinct to look at the restoration work being carried out to what had been the holding tank on the roof.

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A particular treat was a preview of the area that will house the Cathedral's "Open Treasure" project and which is scheduled to open to the public later this year. A vast amount of work is going on in the areas of the Great Kitchen and the Monks' Dormitory, splendid ancient rooms that will house and display the many treasures of the Cathedral including the coffin of St Cuthbert as a focal centrepiece.

It was particularly pleasing to learn that on completion of his apprenticeship, Peter will be applying to become a Freeman of Durham and a member of the Company of Joiners. We look forward to welcoming him into the Freedom as a particularly unique Freeman in modern times.

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We were also pleased to learn that some of Peter's colleagues are eligible to apply for the Freedom through servitude in that they too have served out apprenticeships at the Cathedral. It will be good to have them join us and to strengthen the centuries old links between the Freemen of Durham and its historic Cathedral.

We were indebted to Peter and the Yard Manager, Ian Wilmshurst (Curriers Company) for showing us the work that is in progress and for sharing their unique insights into a vast undertaking in an awesome setting.  Thanks also to Joe McElwee for managing this relationship and arranging today's visit.

The Open Treasure project can be found on the Cathedral website http://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/open-treasure