Our annual flower festival at St Chad’s Cathedral is now becoming somewhat famous. Amongst our thousands of visitors this year we had people from Devon, Scotland, the Isle of Wight, Finland and the USA.
Despite a few less displays visitors thought our 2019 festival was the best so far, and the standard of the displays was the highest.
The thought put into adapting ideas to our theme ‘Following the Footsteps of Our Lord’ was quite amazing. Who would have thought that Our Lord’s footsteps could have been interpreted in so many different ways?
The choice of so many wonderful, colourful species of flowers was inspiring, as were the choices of greenery and textures. The perfume, mainly from the lilies, was quite overpowering – especially when the Cathedral was opened first thing in the morning.
Our three judges, Fr Gerry Lennon, Sr Maura Halpin and Mrs Angela Clancy, were very thorough and had a difficult time choosing our winners.
In their view, and also in the view of the St Chad’s Cathedral Association committee, to have a go makes everyone a winner. Just to take part and praise God in such a different way, in the opinion of our Dean, inspired our visitors and congregation.
However, just as at the Chelsea Flower Show, each display is awarded either a Gold, Silver or Bronze (this year a footprint) to see how well they have performed in the opinion of the judges. That was the first round of the judging over. We then go on to choosing the winners in each category.
In the Primary School category it was extremely difficult to choose the winners because each school has improved immensely over the years. Not only in the use of colours, but in the interpretation of the theme in the written work of the children.
First place was Our Lady of Lourdes School, Yardley Wood; second place, the Abbey School, Erdington and third St Edward’s School, Selly Park.
St Edward’s used their display at their confirmation celebrations a few days later.
We had two secondary school entrants, both of a very high standard.
The judges decided to award both joint first. These schools were: St Paul’s School for Girls, Edgbaston, which was a most vibrant display of flowers, and Bishop Milner College, Dudley, with a subtle interpretation using the steps of the pulpit.
In the main category of parishes, flower groups and individuals, the winner was Stephanie Holden representing the Birmingham Lourdes Hospitalite on the Canons Stalls; second was taken by the Diocesan Vocations Group with a clever display on the font – with Lego scenes hidden amongst their magnificent flowers.
In third place was Olton Friary with an interpretation of the sixth and seventh Stations of the Cross.
The stunning choice of colours – purples, whites and bluey green – together with their inspired creation of the Crown of Thorns brought together a most magnificent display.
On Saturday afternoon we tried something very different, which was a great success. Professor David Saint played the organ to accompany Felicity Rogers, a soprano, as she sang Schubert’s Ave Maria, Panis Angelicus and a third piece, on the hour every hour. Felicity is a member of the Cathedral Singers.
The 11am Mass on Sunday was celebrated by Mgr Timothy Menezes, and was said for the intention of the Cathedral Association.
The culmination of the festival was an inspirational concert given by the Birmingham Schools’ Wind Orchestra under the direction of Adrian Taylor. Each half contained a poetry reading by Philip Cotterill, one of our Association Committee.
The prize-giving took place during the interval. The concert was followed by refreshments in the Grimshaw Room. The Association Summer Draw winners were also picked at the conclusion of the reception.
We do hope you will come along to our even more special flower festival next year, from 12th to 14th June 2020.
More details will be announced with the October issue of the Basilican Magazine.
Finally, our thanks to Archbishop Bernard Longley and Mgr Timothy Menezes for their immense support.