County's cathedral nears completion

FIVE years after skilled craftsmen began working hundreds of feet above the county's skyline, the project to crown Suffolk's cathedral with an impressive tower is nearing completion.

FIVE years after skilled craftsmen began working hundreds of feet above the county's skyline, the project to crown Suffolk's cathedral with an impressive tower is nearing completion.

And at a special 'topping out' ceremony, a personal message from Prince Charles, patron of the scheme, was read to the masons, glaziers, engineers and flint-workers who made the ambitious multi-million pound project possible.

Gathered 160ft above the Bury St Edmunds skyline, scores of dignitaries and craftsmen saw Bishop Richard Lewis place the final stone at the pinnacle of the tower.

And it is only a matter of time before the impressive £8.25million structure is revealed to the public. By Christmas, workers will begin removing the 25 miles of scaffolding currently cocooning the building – a process which will take three months – in advance of an official opening ceremony next year.

"I could not be more sorry that I am unable to be with you as you 'top out' your splendid new tower," said the message from Prince Charles, which was read by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache.

"I just wanted to send you all a heartfelt message of support on this wonderful occasion.

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"As a result of my previous visits to the Cathedral I now have an almost proprietorial interest in all the work taking place and have nothing but the most profound admiration for all the craftsmen and women involved."

Horry Parsons, team manager for Bluestone, the company behind the project, said the Cathedral would be complete by early next year, and officially opened during the summer.

"As a Suffolk person, coming from a long line of Suffolk builders, culminating myself spending 50 years at the same company, it is wonderful swan song," said Mr Parsons, who will retire once the project is finished.

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