This year, on the centenary of women's suffrage, we are celebrating the women who play important roles in the daily life of the Cathedral community.
Each Saturday of the year, we will be sharing a different story here and across our social media. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and search for the #BlessedIsShe hashtag.
For this second Saturday of the year, we spoke with Ceni Owen, one of the first ever girl choristers in the Cathedral Choir, and more recently a seasonal staff member.
What’s your connection with Bristol Cathedral?
I started as one of the first ever girl choristers at Bristol Cathedral, aged 11, progressing to Head Chorister by the time I left the choir. I was then a member of the Cathedral Consort to the age of 19. Beyond singing, I have worked in the Cathedral Café, and currently assist the verger department while on holiday from studying at Durham University.
How long have you been associated with the Cathedral?
In one of the many capacities I have had at the Cathedral, I’ve been involved here since 2005.
What first drew you to Bristol Cathedral?
I was already singing in my school choir at St Peter’s & St Paul’s, Cotham, and I wanted to be a chorister: some of my brother’s friends were choristers and I felt it was unfair that girls couldn’t be choristers too! My mum asked the Master of the Choristers at the Cathedral about girl choristers, and it was at the time that talks about introducing girl choristers at the Cathedral were taking place.
What have been some of your personal highlights?
As a chorister, a particular highlight was being the soloist at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, singing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City on Christmas Eve to packed cathedral of 1,000. When I joined Consort, singing a solo in Handel’s Messiah was a proud moment too. More recently, seeing another aspect of the Cathedral with the verger department has been fascinating - seeing the inner workings of the Cathedral, particularly at Christmas.
What would you like to see the Cathedral doing over the next few years?
I think the exhibitions so far have been great – e.g. the we have our lives project – and would love to see more of this sort of thing in the future. I look forward to the organ being renovated, and at its full potential. Continued work enabling the choristers to flourish, with continuing support, expanding their horizons through opportunities on choral courses, scholarships, or young person’s programs. Finally, I would love to see the cathedral continue to be a steadfast place of tradition, and continue to expand its horizons: to keep its values, while also being a living embodiment of a modern and vibrant place.
What does the Cathedral mean for you?
The cathedral is a constant and consistent part of my life; it is somewhere I have grown up and made friends for life; where I hope to get married one day; and, more than anything else, it is home.