A grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has allowed Belfast Cathedral to appoint two new members of staff who will work to attract more people into the historic building in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.
Holly Wilson has joined St Anne’s Cathedral as Events & Marketing Manager and Helen Graham as Visitor Services Manager. Their posts are funded for 18 months by a grant of £208,200 from Heritage Lottery Fund’s resilient heritage grant programme.
The HLF support will enable St Anne’s to maximise visitor numbers, generating more income to ensure the building remains a centre of worship and culture for generations to come.
Simon Cordner, Business Manager for the Cathedral said: “St Anne’s is a historically significant building within the City of Belfast and indeed Northern Ireland. We want to maximise the potential of the building and the opportunities that are emerging, creating a resilient and sustainable heritage here at the Cathedral.”
Holly Wilson has a degree in journalism from the University of Ulster and worked for four years as a business, sales and event planning co-ordinator with Titanic Belfast before travelling around Australia for nine months.
She describes the job opportunity at Belfast Cathedral as very exciting. “The big challenge is getting the word out that the Cathedral is an events base at the same time as respecting that it is a church,” she said.
“I believe that we will soon be in competition with other venues. It is an opportunity to get people involved and to be part of the Cathedral community. They will see that if they come to us for their event they will also be benefiting this beautiful Cathedral.”
A native of Fermanagh, Helen Graham has worked for the National Trust both as a volunteer and later as Visitor Services Assistant. She comes to St Anne’s from Larchfield Estate, where she was Events Manager.
Helen described St Anne’s as being ‘relatively new’ as a visitor attraction in Belfast. “There are thousands of people visit Belfast every day but not so many come here,” she said. “My role is to increase these numbers, to look after the welcome desk and volunteers and to promote tours to cruise ships and other groups.
“I aim to get people to put money into the commercial side of the Cathedral, but do it in a way that they develop a relationship with the church building and establish it as a place to come and visit in Belfast.”
HLF’s Resilient Heritage programme aims to help organisations that want to build their capacity or achieve strategic change to improve the management of heritage. Grants can fund activities to help organisation acquire new skills or knowledge, or new models of governance, leadership and business to put organisations in a better position for the future.
Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NI said: “We were delighted to fund this resilient heritage project for St Anne’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is a very significant part of the built and social heritage of Belfast and it is important that the current custodians are given the support they need to protect it for future generations.
“It is increasingly challenging to find ongoing financial support for heritage and cultural sites. They need to innovate and find new models for financial sustainability and thanks to National Lottery players our resilient heritage funding enables them to do this”.
Mr Cordner said: “This project will leave a lasting legacy, expediting fundamental organisational change and creating the conditions for creating fit for purpose structures, leading to sustainable and resilient growth. The funding will provide a stimulus and catalyst for St Anne’s to avail of the opportunities that are emerging around us. This grant from Heritage Lottery Fund will have a positive impact on the future destiny of the Cathedral.”