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Great Expectations

The last working day of the year is always a mix of excitement and anticipation.  I’m not the only one trying to get through the last few “Must Do” tasks on the list with one eye on the clock.

There are the usual reports and updates – including one decent sized grant claim due by 2 January which I simply cannot face as my first task of the new year.  With all of the time critical tasks safely undertaken and amongst the best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, I’ve been creating a growing pile of things to focus on in 2019.  Anything slightly complicated or ambitious - and anything new - has been added to that list on the basis that I just don’t have the time or space to deal with it effectively now.

You might think that since I’ll be heading into the final eight months of Pilgrim Phase One there would be little new and certainly little both new and ambitious. After all, if we’re not well on the way to hitting our aspirations for the project now, it’s probably a bit late to start.

But Pilgrim’s not like any other job I’ve had before! I applied for the role of Project Manager from the happy position of looking for a genuinely rewarding and meaningful role.  Things looked great on paper: given the project, the place and the context, suggestions that this might be the tipping point in the heritage-based regeneration of a city seemed less like funding bid hyperbole and more like a clear-eyed take on the art of the possible. 

Things looked even better in reality.  After the slightly off-putting fact of parking my car near to the Bishop Hooper memorial (feel free to google – or take my word that this really isn’t the kind of sign you’re looking for if you’re in any way superstitious!), my first visit to Gloucester was a delight with two of the Cathedral’s marvellous volunteers taking me under their wings to ensure that that I had the best possible introduction to an extraordinary place.

Since then, there have been occasional lows and odd moments when things haven’t quite gone to plan.  It would be weird if every single day was a fairy tale but the last four years have overwhelmingly about being part of a team that does what it says it will and a city which is on the up.  Having written last time about our rash of nominations, it says something that Cathedral colleagues were happy to be runners up at the Believe in Gloucester awards: how could we not be impressed when our friends at Llanthony Secunda Priory had wrestled some of the city’s most important structures off Historic England’s “At Risk” register – something which at times truly must have felt like an impossible task.

But Gloucester is proving to be a place where challenges are shared and chances of success increased.  So early this afternoon, one of my last tasks of 2018 was opening a letter from the City Council which contained a grant offer to help us develop the next phase of Pilgrim!  This confidence and support helps to make almost anything seem possible – Pilgrim isn’t just important to me or to the Cathedral, it means something to all kinds of other individuals and organisations.

So when I come back to my desk in the new year, I know it will be another year of raising our game.  With time blocked out at the end of January to think properly about what “Reveal and Sustain” (our Phase Two vision) means and seven months after that to work through how we go about making that happen it’s safe to say that 2019 is going to be memorable.

Here’s wishing us all a Happy Christmas and a transformational New Year.


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