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Dean of Guildford Cathedral to Retire After 10 ‘Enjoyable’ Years

Published on: 20 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 20 Jun, 2023

By Hugh Coakley

The Very Revd Dianna Gwilliams, Dean of Guildford Cathedral, is to retire in September 2023 after 10 turbulent years in the post.

One of her major achievements was to successfully raise funds for the vital maintenance works to the Grade II* listed building.

However, her time in the post will be marred by the unsuccessful attempts to build houses on Stag Hill to raise funds for an endowment for the cathedral.

She initiated the plan in 2013, later saying the project was needed for the cathedral “to survive”, a claim which has been much disputed.

The Dean of Guildford Cathedral, the Very Revd Dianna Gwilliam, at the proclamation and thanksgiving service to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the proclamation of King Charles III. Photo by Steve Porter.

A spokesperson for the cathedral said: “Dianna has had 10 very enjoyable years serving the Diocese of Guildford, sitting on the Bishop of Guildford’s leadership team, and leading the work of Guildford Cathedral.

“She joined the diocese in 2013 following 36 years in south -east London and has been a force for good not just for diocesan schools but education and education governance in general.

“During her time, the cathedral has welcomed more than 100,000 children and young people through education programmes, school services and outreach, enabled the ordination of more than 120 priests and deacons, welcomed tens of thousands of visitors, hosted a variety of film crews, and provided the focus for the county of Surrey in times of sadness and of celebration, playing a full role as a vital part of the Guildford community.”

The Dean of Guildford Cathedral, the Very Revd Diana Gwilliams at the launch of the Make Your Mark fundraising campaign in 2014.

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, said: “I’m so grateful to Dean Dianna for her 10 years of ministry at Guildford Cathedral. Dianna’s constant focus on glorifying Jesus has been an inspiration to many.

“She will be much missed, but we wish her God’s richest blessing as she moves into a well-deserved retirement.”

The Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, added: “Dianna has overseen many positive changes to life in the cathedral.

“Her work with other faiths has been significant and developing further all the time.

“The cathedral has played its part in large county services including our late Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, embraced both within the cathedral and the grounds.

“The very great pressure that Covid put on the cathedral and worshipping, should not be underestimated. The cathedral managed to keep its doors open, albeit with a considerable amount of additional work from the cathedral team, led by Dianna.

“Her work with London Bridge was significant. One of her last projects has been the organising of bringing the Knife Angel [sculpture] to Guildford. It was Dianna’s drive and determination which brought this extraordinary sculpture to Guildford and made such a positive impression.”

Reflecting on one of the lesser-known achievements as Dean, Dianna said: “As an engineer by training, I am particularly proud of all the work carried out to the cathedral building, enabled by 250,000 tonnes of internal scaffolding, a mammoth project only made possible by my wonderful team of colleagues.”

The dean will continue in her role as a deputy lieutenant of Surrey.

She added: “I am so looking forward to being a more hands-on grandmother for my five delightful grandchildren and to be able to support my husband in his business.”

Evensong on Sunday, September 17, will mark her final day in the diocese.

The process to appoint a new dean will begin in 2024. It is led jointly by the prime minister’s appointments secretary and the archbishops’ appointment secretary. An acting dean will be appointed for the duration of the vacancy.

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