On Saturday 23 September, the Cathedral is holding a special recruiting event for Weekend Cathedral Guides. It’s a chance to meet members of the Cathedral’s award winning team and an opportunity to find out what volunteering as a guide involves.
The main event takes place in the North Transept between 14.00 and 16.00, where tables laid out café-style will allow current Cathedral guides to ‘speed date’ those interested in joining, and there will be mini talks from current guides on subjects such as the Perils and Perks of Being a Cathedral Guide, Art in the Cathedral and the History of the Cathedral. There’ll also be a chance to climb up to the West Window, with its amazing view of the Cathedral from end to end, and a chance to visit the beautiful C15 Library, which sits above the East Cloisters.
There are 260 Cathedral Floor Guides in all, broken up into 13 guiding teams doing morning and afternoon shifts. The Cathedral only asks for potential guides to commit to one half-day session a week but enthusiasts are welcome to sign up for more if they want. All guides undergo a seven day (spread over seven weeks) training course learning not just facts but other useful skills like voice projection and presentation. Some of the perks of the role include special rates in the shop and Refectory, and free teas and parking when on duty.
Twenty-five year old Australian born Brendan Fletcher volunteers on a Friday morning. For most of the week he works as a London based Blue Badge Guide but when he can works in the Cathedral:
“I started guiding at the Cathedral 18 months ago after leaving Oxford with a degree in languages. I was living in Salisbury at the time and enjoyed the fact that I was able to guide in a place I have got to know intimately. I am always amazed by the variety of visitors we get here. I suppose part of it is our proximity to the cruise ports of Southampton and Portland – and the fact that we are on the Stonehenge-Bath and West Country routes.”
New guides join a community too, working alongside not just other members of the guiding team but interacting with the chaplains, vestry staff, Refectory team, Front Desk staff and the Travel Trade team. For 26 year old Rachael Newman, who joined the guiding team seven months ago, that was an important factor:
“I was a midwife working 12 hour shifts when I got glandular fever, which developed into ME so I had to stop work. After six months I was back on my feet and looking for something manageable to occupy myself. I am very sociable, liked history and had studied Salisbury Cathedral for my Art History A level, so my mum suggested trying the Cathedral.
“That one day a week really helped me. You are part of a team, which is very sociable, and always learning interesting things. The training course is just the tip of the iceberg. Every week I learnt a bit more.”
Rachael hasn’t gone back to midwifery but has been working part-time at a preschool in Salisbury and running her own business, The Baby Grow Club, offering ante-natal and Pregnancy support. She is in no doubt that the volunteering helped her through:
“Guiding on that one morning a week gave me a structure to build on and a chance to interact with people. All my friends were at work, many of them were midwives, and it was great coming into an environment where no-one knew I was and had been ill and where I was comfortable.”
Guides come from all walks of life and all age groups. Many develop their own specialism – stained glass, the medieval clock, the architecture - while others opt to become Welcomers, meeting and greeting visitors as they arrive. Others do the Floor tours, around two per four-hour shift, lasting between 40 and 60 minutes and the Cathedral also has specialist Tower Guides.
To register you interest in the Weekend Guide Recruitment Day on Saturday, 23 September please contact Christine Keegan on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01722 555123.
For any other enquiries or further information contact Marie Thomas at Salisbury Cathedral email@example.com 01722 555148