Achievements through the years
Photograph of St Dunstan's Chapel, showing the new curtains installed by the Friends of St Paul's in the 1950s (Ref. No. 2226)
Over the years since their foundation the Friends have made a considerable contribution to the life and welfare of the Cathedral.
Financially, the Friends have raised millions of pounds over the past 70 years to go towards fabric and furnishings, artwork, music, services, publications and various major projects. The first ever donation made was £50 (the equivalent of £1,500 today) towards music services in 1952. Music has continued to be the focus of fundraising, either as grants to the Music Department or sponsorship of music events.
Front page of Dome magazine, No. 2 Winter 1964-1965, showing the new pulpit
Woven into the fabric
Contributions to the fabric of the building have ranged from the small, such as providing a clock for the newly rebuilt Chapter House and curtains for St Dunstan’s Chapel in the 1950s - to the more extensive, such as the cleaning of the West portico in 1957, and in the 1960s, providing what is still the pulpit we use today. The Cathedral's clock was electrified and work carried out to one of the bells, Great Paul, in the 1970s.
The Friends also sponsor a Chorister every year, as well as making annual donations to the Cathedral's Learning Department.
More recently, the Friends have contributed to improvements to the Whispering Gallery, and most poignantly, supported the creation of the 'Remember Me' memorial, commemorating those who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is easy to see how the efforts of the Friends are woven into almost every aspect of the building, as well as their care and commitment - to the Cathedral's past, present and future.
Letter to John Vennard, Friends of St Paul's, from Captain James A. Lovell, NASA, thanking him for his Friends membership card, 12 June 1969 (ref. No. LRAT/241)
Out of this world membership
The Friends are more than just fundraisers, too. As with their predecessors the St Paul's Watch, being a Friend of St Paul's provides an opportunity to become part of a unique community, and engage with fellow supporters of the Cathedral.
These fellow supporters have come from a variety of backgrounds - perhaps most spectacularly in 1969 when the membership saw the addition of US astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman and James Lovell - but have always played a crucial role in helping to maintain a historic building and centre of worship.
What will the next 70 years bring?