Reflections 2011: Lincoln Cathedral’s year of progress

— Phil Hamlyn Williams is the Chief Executive at Lincoln Cathedral

2011 has been my first year living in Lincoln; I worked here from 1996 to 2003, but lived far down the A46. My enduring impression now is just how vibrant the city has become. There is a buzz; things are happening.

It is hard to say which made the biggest difference: the university or Siemens? The truth is that they have both brought a great deal, but not to forget the great work being done at Lincoln College and Bishop Grosseteste University College.

There have been many highlights: the gathering of hoteliers and guest house owners in the cathedral back in June: the business launch of the Turrets Appeal on a gloriously sunny September day; the sell-out at the Halle concert; the Enthronement of Christopher Lowson as the new Bishop of Lincoln; and then the visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, with the Prince becoming Patron of the Cathedral Fabric Fund.

On the wider front, Steep Hill being named Britain’s Great Street 2012, the go ahead for the Eastern bypass, brown signs on the A1 (at last), and the dualling of the A46.

There has been much progress. The Visit Lincoln Partnership has secured its place in marketing the city with the work being done by Ruddocks on a Lincoln brand. The Castle has submitted its exciting bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the re-presentation of Magna Carta and the transformation in the Castle’s offering to visitors.

The interest created by the Cathedral Advent Calendar as it was revealed day by day on Twitter (@LincsCathedral) and Facebook was encouraging. It is hard to grasp just how the social media has taken off in the past year.

Last, but by no means least, it is a delight to have the young journalists at Monks Abbey Primary School writing a regular column on the Cathedral website.

There are challenges. The cathedral remains on English Heritage’s buildings at risk register. This means that we must continue to work at the current pace to avoid further deterioration. We have a great team of crafts men and women to do the work, but we have to continue to strive at raising the funds we need to pay them.

The visitor offering in the city is strong, but Lincoln remains unknown by too many people. Visitors from abroad arrive in London and want to travel without the need to change trains; we need more direct trains to and from King’s Cross.

On the broader picture the economy is very challenging; far too many people don’t have jobs, life is an uphill struggle. Let’s hope and pray for a better outlook at the end of 2012.