It was the first question when Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, the next Bishop of Ripon arrived at Ripon Cathedral. “Bishop, do you have a head for heights?”
As if talking to the press, carrying out TV interviews, feeding a prized pedigree calf on a farm, meeting a class of children in Harrogate, or speaking to a chancel full of civic dignitaries and clergy at Ripon wasn’t enough, the final duty of a day of introductions for the next bishop of Ripon was potentially the most challenging!.
The invitation: to climb up scaffolding up the side of the 12th century edifice to the top, 80 feet above the ground and to bless three new gargoyles, installed this week after being specially sculpted as part of vital repairs.
“It was a first for me”, said Bishop Helen-Ann. “ It was a bit exposed climbing up the scaffolding and especially the ladder at the top to actually get up to where the gargoyles were, it was best not to look down! The only way is up I guess!”
With the Dean of Ripon, Very Revd John Dobson, Bishop Helen-Ann is pictured with two primary school children who won the competition to design two of the gargoyles, a competition that attracted over 1,000 entrants.
Rachel Ogier, who was a pupil at Moorside Junior School in Ripon (now at Ripon Grammar School) and Hayden Horsfall, from Pickering Community Junior School have been working with our carvers Martin Coward and Alan Micklethwaite to see their designs turned in to stone. Both children showed no fear climbing to the top of the scaffolding to see the finished result.
Bishop Helen-Ann will next return to Ripon Cathedral on February 4, 2018 when she will be welcomed and installed at a special service. You can read more about her, and see pictures from an eventful day of welcomes and introductions here