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A prominent New Plymouth businesswoman, Jan Mason, has accepted the vital challenge to assist in raising funds for Taranaki Cathedral’s earthquake strengthening and enhancement project.
As campaign manager, Jan Mason will start the position on May 1. She is pictured above (middle back row).
Others in the photo are: back Row L-R: ++Philip Richardson, Peter Tennent, Richard Handley, Jan Mason, The Very Revd. Peter Beck, Lynn Bublitz. Front row: Terry Parkes, Jenny Goddard, Cathy Thurston, Mike Braggins
The cathedral is currently closed because it requires earthquake strengthening. Work is yet to commence while extensive design and consents required for the project are completed.
The decision has now been made to take advantage of the closure to modify the interior church space and add a magnificent new atrium at the back to allow a range of community events and to move all the church activities to the one site.
Jan who is currently working for the Cancer Society, says she was approached to do the job and was more than happy to take it on.
“I had a chat to Pete (Tennent, the fundraising chairman) and others and had a think about it and I just throught I could make a difference.”
It also appealed that she was in the position to carry out what would be a 40-hour-a-week paid job. “I’m on my own and I have got the time and it’s such an awesome thing to be part of. When it’s completed I’ll be able to say ‘I helped with that’. Something was telling me I should do it.”
Jan has a real empathy for the cathedral after arriving in Taranaki back in 1983 when she saw St Mary’s, the oldest stone church in New Zealand, as an integral part of Taranaki. She also sees it as an essential component in the vibrancy of the cultural and arts heritage of the region. “I still have such vivid memories of both Pukekura Park and the church when I first arrived.”
The future cathedral and additions will transform it into both a hospitality centre through the new atrium, and an information and historical centre. She already has visions of how the new versatile seating within the cathedral will allow for it to be used for such things as a concert chamber or forumfor debate.
She praised the cathedral groups who have come up with an excellent and progressive project.
“Just to repair it was not doing it justice. To have the vision to give it new life is really exciting. Everyone is doing it for the same reasons, to see it get over the line. My role is to tie it altogether.”
Jan is under no illusions as to how big the task ahead will be with mammoth quantities of paperwork landing on her desk. Fortunately she can call on her expertise and experience, as the past owner of three New Plymouth businesses, as well as a long background in administration and back room work. “I’m well aware it’s a huge task and it’s not going to happen in five minutes.”
Jan will operate an open door policy in her prefab site office which is about to be placed within the cathedral grounds. “It will be a drop-in and site office, and will be set up as an information centre so people are welcome to come in to see what it’s all about.”
Jan says she is more than happy with the fundraising committee who have come on board. “They are all very impressive and very committed people. I couldn’t want for better.” Peter Tennent will be the perfect cheerleader, she smiles. The emails are already landing thick and fast. “I like his enthusiasm and commitment. Look at what he achieved as a mayor. I have every confidence he will get the job done.”
The committee’s job will not be over until every dollar is raised whether through grants or personal donations, she says.
“Everyone’s contribution is valued be it small or large. Everyone has got a connection to the cathedral. The thought of it not to be there is unacceptable.”
Any inquiries at this early stage can be made to the cathedral office.
The Cathedral Campaign Executive fundraising committee is: Chairman Peter Tennent, Richard Handley, Lynn Bublitz, Terry Parkes, Cathy Thurston and Mike Braggins.
Ex-officio members: Dean Peter Beck (back, second from right), Sarah Foy (absent), Jenny Goddard (middle, second from left), Barbara Brockie (absent).
Campaign manager: Jan Mason