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Blackburn: new cathedral director relishes opportunities

Blackburn Cathedral's new Executive Director is determined to keep the cathedral at the heart of the local community, while being all about growth and making disciples.

Sharon Grayston will fulfil the new role and her recent arrival follows the installation earlier this year of a new Dean, The Very Rev. Peter Howell-Jones who came to Blackburn following a successful term as Vice-Dean of Chester Cathedral.

Sharon, 52, from Eccleston, near Chorley, said today: “I am delighted to take up this role at a time when the Diocese and the Cathedral are fully engaged with Vision 2026 – Healthy Churches Transforming Communities.

“Our Vision seeks to make disciples, be witnesses and grow leaders for Christ – which is at the very heart of what the Cathedral is all about … and has been about for generations.”

Sharon continued: “At the same time we seek to be at the heart of the community, here in the immediate location of Blackburn, as well as the wider Diocese across Lancashire.”

In recent years Blackburn Cathedral has gone from strength to strength. Its reputation as a centre of music excellence is well known; and its community cohesion work is recognised as outstanding.

Significantly, in recent years the Cathedral has also been at the centre of a stunning renaissance in the centre of Blackburn – being the jewel in the crown of the new Cathedral Quarter development – while its own transformation has taken place at the same time – in the shape of Cathedral Court.

Cathedral Court is the first major extension to any of England’s cathedrals for more than 500 years. The stunning courtyard setting, opened by the Archbishop of York, is now home to many of the Cathedral’s clergy and staff.

Speaking about the new role Sharon said: “I relish the opportunities that the position offers as the most senior lay member of staff. My responsibilities will include the day-to-day administration of the Cathedral, its finances, business development, properties, employees and volunteers.”

“It also involves supporting the Dean and clergy, and knowing what we can offer the community and the public through the Cathedral's many fantastic facilities, at the same time as working closely with the parishes in the Diocese.”

Commenting on the appointment today, Dean Peter said: “Since joining the team here in Blackburn from Chester Cathedral earlier this year I have been amazed at the incredible energy and enthusiasm displayed by everyone who worships and works here.

“Being a key part of the work to take Blackburn Cathedral to the next level as Executive Director will be a fantastic opportunity for Sharon.

“She will work alongside me and my senior colleagues to achieve our ongoing aims – for the Cathedral itself and as part of the wider Diocese; particularly in the context of the Diocesan Vision 2026. I am looking forward to exploring what we can achieve together.”

Sharon has had a varied career to date, having worked in industry, higher education and local government.

Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, she came to Lancashire at an early age and was brought up in Blackpool, attending Highfield High School.

She studied at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and obtained a BA (Hons) in Business Studies and, later, an MBA (Master of Business Administration).

In 2003 she, her husband David and four children, emigrated to Perth in Western Australia. The family returned to the UK in 2011.

Mrs Grayston has been a committed Christian all her life and was churchwarden at The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Eccleston, for two years until 2016.

She is still a member of St Mary’s PCC and is a Foundation Governor of the local Church primary school.

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