Eryl Parry has been our Director of Enterprise since October 2005. She leaves us today ending her time with us on a high after her well deserved personal 'Outstanding Contribution Award' at last nights Liverpool City Region Tourism Awards 2016.
You can also read how Liverpool Cathedral won best Large Visitor Tourist Attraction in what was a great night for Liverpool Cathedral.
We would like to share this interview as we say farewell to Eryl. There will be a special Evensong on on Thursday 26th May 2016 at 5.30pm where we, Liverpool Cathedral will celebrate all that she has done, not only for the past 10 years here at the cathedral, but for the City of Liverpool as a whole.
You joined back in October 2005. How has the Cathedral changed in the time you have been here?
I came originally to head up the Cathedral’s commercial activities at a time when a 3.2 million pound visitor’s centre project was already underway. Right through 2006 we were in a major construction period, the then Dean felt that it was important to build the mezzanine café so that hospitality was visible. The sight of people enjoying refreshments and chatting with friends is a welcoming greeting. One of my highlights during my time here has been seeing the hoardings coming down at the end of 2006 revealing a fully stocked new shop and that bright, new area of hospitality at the top. It felt like a huge leap forward. It was taking seriously what visitors now expect. Then in the run up to 2008 with Liverpool being the European Capital of Culture we spent time really establishing our credentials with the city and repositioning the cathedral in terms of people’s perceptions of what we could do. That is how God works, he gives you opportunities. Certainly 2008 was a complete game changer for the city and for us as a cathedral.
How have you managed the challenge of balancing the economic need to host such exciting and dynamic events & whilst also reflecting the building being a place of worship?
The Cathedral obviously needs to generate income to sustain free entrance which is a deeply held principle. The need to generate income is an important but only part of the story and it makes us creative. If you can imagine a cathedral without that sense of life and diversity then what of the visitor experience? They would still see a beautiful building but a cavernous dark and quiet space. And whilst sometimes we crave that sense of peace and sanctuary, to the visitor who sometimes knows very little or nothing of the Christian Life, they may well think that it’s ‘dead’. It’s not dead. It is completely engaged and a vital part of the city’s spiritual, economic and cultural life.
I guess I’m just reflecting who I am and what I think the Cathedral is. First and foremost I’m a child of God, The Cathedral is God’s house and it’s primary purpose is worship. God is involved in all of the details in our lives. Actually, if you do have faith, a love of the place you’re called to makes you want to do things, bring life and animation and friendship. So enterprise being at the heart of our mission is something that I feel is absolutely natural and this is about using the gifts that everyone in the Cathedral has.
What do you think has been your greatest achievement?
I think it’s building a team. They are in great shape as I leave. Seeing the relationships that we’ve made whether that’s in the shop, catering, events, visiting and now volition. Watching the people that they’ve got connections with coming into our building and feeling that it’s their cathedral. It’s an emotional experience.
What will you miss most when you leave?
I will miss that sense of being at the heart of city life. I have been really stimulated and challenged. The work I have done on visitor economy boards, the Hope Street partners. It is about people, the cathedral community, the privilege working out your calling, I guess in such and incredible space that allows you opportunities to flourish. I think it’s symbolic here that the architect gave us such a flexible space, without fixed furniture. He said don’t look at my arches look at my spaces. That invites life in and I will miss that sense of the possible in such a big space.