Dementia Friendly Cathedral Tours – Supporting Dementia Action Week

In support of Dementia Action Week, Winchester Rotary in partnership with Winchester Cathedral, provided an illustrated presentation to two separate groups of those living with dementia, and their carers.

Our experienced volunteer cathedral guide, Pam Meir, recounted the amazing story of William Walker. This famous, courageous Victorian diver who worked for many years in dangerous, dark conditions with water up to 20 feet, beneath Winchester Cathedral, to shore up the southern and eastern sides, to prevent the collapse of the building. Due to his outstanding courage and expertise, many thousands of visitors can today enjoy our beautiful cathedral.

During our first tour we met a lady called Margaret who told us she was Head of the Holy Dusters – a title unknown to us, with the exception of one of our tour guests who told us that she too had been a Holy Duster. Listening to these two most interesting ladies talking about their experiences as Holy Dusters in Winchester Cathedral, added another dimension to our William Walker experience. As Head of the Holy Dusters, Margaret is responsible for a team of 11 including some gentlemen. Between these two ladies every nook, cranny, sculpture and statue was well known to them. Holy Dusters perform an essential role in helping to maintain the cathedral as a cared for and loved place of worship.

Wednesday, 15th May, saw us again at Winchester Cathedral to welcome another small group of visitors who are living with dementia. The weather was warm and sunny so we took our group up into the beautiful, tranquil Dean Garnier Garden to hear the story of William Walker. Sadly, no Holy Dusters present this time!

Winchester Rotary always provides refreshment at the cathedral refectory and today we were able to sit in the garden and chat. There was much laughter and reminiscing. Most of our guests are local people living in care homes. Many knew the cathedral well in their more active days and the tours often bring back happy memories.

Diana Brooks

By William Walker statue
Dean Garden Garden

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top