Chichester Cathedral Learning and Engagement Department volunteer – Celia

Celia Javan shares her experiences as a volunteer in the Learning and Engagement Team at Chichester Cathedral.

What is your volunteering role in the Learning and Engagement Department at the Cathedral?
I am a workshop leader, mentor and helper in maintaining resources for use in the workshops.

Why did you choose to volunteer in this role?
I always wanted, in retirement, to be involved in a Cathedral and as I have a background in education and tourism. The L&E Department seemed the ideal place for me to offer my services.

How long have you volunteered in the L&E Department?
I started in 2004, so fourteen years.

Can you describe a typical shift?
This is difficult because no two shifts are the same. So let’s imagine that it’s a day when about thirty 10 year old students are with us looking at a comparison between their local church and the Cathedral. We might start with a general tour of the Cathedral with suitable comparisons. This would last about fifty minutes and be followed by one or two workshops including practical skills or drama. These might last from 50 to 80 minutes and involve preparing the workshops and clearing away.

Celia talking to a group of visiting students in the Cathedral

What is the most extraordinary thing that you have ever done in this role?
I am always delighted by the ‘awe and wonder’ demonstrated by our students when they first enter the Cathedral, their realisation that they recognise stories in the South Transept window and their appreciation of some of the symbolism in the Piper Tapestry.

What do you enjoy most about it?
Firstly, it is lovely to be part of the Cathedral family and to work with such kind and friendly people. Also as an ex­teacher there is a great reward in preparing and delivering activities for students of all ages.

Do you volunteer for any other roles either at the Cathedral or elsewhere?
At the Cathedral I am also a Guide, including being a member of the Guide Training Team and I am also a Doorkeeper.

What do you personally get out of volunteering at the Cathedral?
I find all my roles within the Cathedral most rewarding. I have the opportunity to continue to learn about all areas of Cathedral life and the history of the place. I meet people of all ages from all over the world many of whom have fascinating stories to tell and I spend a lot of time in a beautiful place surrounded by lovely people.

Join the Learning and Engagement team as a volunteer!
Are you enthusiastic about learning new things and have the time to do so? Do you enjoy being part of a team? If you are interested in finding out more and would like a copy of our L&E Volunteer Role Profile please contact Sue, Schools and Adults Officer, on 01243 812497 or email