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York Minster transformed for Northern Lights to raise funds for glass conservation

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York Minster’s cavernous Nave will be transformed this week in preparation for Northern Lights – a special weekend of events to raise funds for the cathedral’s glass preservation project.

The weekend starts on Friday 15th June with a gala fundraising dinner for 700 guests organised by the York Minster Fund, the first on this scale since the Diamond Jubilee Rose Dinner in 2012.

Then on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June, the cathedral will open its doors after hours for two public events where visitors will be able to see a new sound and light projection designed by artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid, taking inspiration from the cathedral’s stained glass and architecture.

The events have been organised to raise funds to support the 20 year project to extend state-of-the-art external glazing to all 128 of the Minster’s mostly medieval stained glass windows, around 60% of which currently have no protection from the elements.

Work began on Monday (11 June) when approximately 1400 chairs were removed from the cathedral’s Nave to allow preparations to begin for the dinner. During the week work will include installing equipment for the sound and light projection, erecting catering marquees and the delivery and laying of 70 tables for the dinner.

The headline sponsor for the event is Langleys Solicitors, principal sponsor Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School and major sponsor UBS. A range  of items have also been donated for the fundraising dinner including a specially designed sapphire and diamond Yorkshire Rose necklace by Ogden Harrogate, champagne by Joseph Perrier, courtesy of Field and Fawcett, and fillet steak by Dovecote Park.

The stained-glass window that was expertly created by the York Glaziers Trust for the 2016 Welcome to Yorkshire Chelsea Flower Show Garden has also been gifted as an auction prize by the tourism body.

Neil Sanderson, Director of the York Minster Fund, said: “We’re hugely excited to see the Nave being transformed for this weekend’s fundraising events. York Minster has a very special collection of stained glass. Its windows hold one of the world’s most important collections of medieval glass with the earliest pieces dating back to c.1160.

“Currently, over 70 of these irreplaceable windows have no protection from the elements, leaving them exposed to damage and decay. The funds raised from these events will directly support our work to provide protection to this glass, buying much needed time for conservation work, and we’re therefore hugely grateful to all our sponsors and to everyone who plans to visit and support us over the weekend.”

To kick start the fundraising programme, the York Minster Fund (YMF) is being supported by an endowment grant of up to £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This means that for the first £1m raised over the next three years, every £1 given by the public will be matched by YMF and then by the HLF. So for every £1 donated by the public, at least £4 will be added to the conservation project pot.

Tickets for the events on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June cost £5 and can be purchased through the Minster’s website at www.yorkminster.org. Doors open at 8pm, when visitors can experience the cathedral at dusk, with its Nave cleared of chairs and filled with music from its Grand Organ, before the sound and light projection is shown at 9.30pm. Last admission is at 9pm and the event will finish at approximately 10pm.

Each £5 ticket will directly contribute £20 to our stained glass conservation project, thanks to match funding from the York Minster Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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