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Canon Peter Howell-Jones makes move to Blackburn

The next Dean of Blackburn will be the current Vice-Dean of Chester Cathedral, Canon Peter Howell-Jones.

Canon Peter, 54, who will succeed The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong, made his first public appearance on Saturday at 10am at a welcome event at Blackburn Cathedral.

He is married to Sian and they have four grown-up children. He will be installed as the new Dean of Blackburn on 25 March 2017. In his current role at Chester Cathedral, Canon Peter is responsible for day-to-day oversight and running of the cathedral; estate management; hospitality and mission.

He also has primary responsibility for the management of a staff team of 40 employees and more than 300 volunteers.

In his new role, as well as taking overall charge of Blackburn Cathedral as Dean of Blackburn, Canon Peter will be a key member of the Diocesan Bishop’s Leadership Team.

The new Dean was chosen via a special appointment panel chaired by The Rt Hon Jack Straw, former MP for Blackburn and former Foreign Secretary.

Canon Peter commented:

“It is an honour and a privilege to be entrusted with the responsibility for the wonderful Cathedral in Blackburn. I have a real sense of expectation for what will be an exciting new challenge and I am looking forward to starting work.”

Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Peter as our next Dean and I look forward to working closely with him. He brings a great deal of experience to the role.

“As well as looking forward to a new era under his leadership at Blackburn Cathedral, Peter will also be a key member of the Bishop’s Leadership Team as we prayerfully move forward together as a Diocese with our Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities.”

Acting Dean of Blackburn and Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev. Philip North, added:

“Blackburn Cathedral is an important focal point not just for the town of Blackburn itself but for the County as well as the Cathedral for the whole of Lancashire.

“Since being appointed as Acting Dean earlier this year I have been amazed and impressed with the hard work and effort put in by the fantastic staff, loyal volunteers and the congregation to support the Cathedral and ensure it continues to flourish.

“So I am pleased to be handing over to Peter who will bring considerable knowledge and talent to the role of Dean. I join with Bishop Julian and the whole Diocese in praying for God’s blessing on Peter’s work and for His continued blessing on everyone connected with Blackburn Cathedral.”

Canon Peter Howell-Jones continued:

“I will be sad to say goodbye to some wonderful colleagues and friends at Chester but I’m very much looking forward to exploring how Blackburn Cathedral can continue to develop and live out its aim to be Good News for Lancashire.

“Blackburn Cathedral has a fantastic national and international reputation for the quality of its music and for its inter-faith work – actively promoting good ways of living alongside one another, respecting our differences and working together for the common good.

“My predecessor also led the Cathedral towards innovative new ways of engaging with, and being part of, the community – most notably as an events space hosting everything from the very successful 2016 Flower Festival to the annual Hive Business Awards.

“This is an approach we have developed at Chester Cathedral and I’m looking forward to working with the Blackburn team to foster further creative and entrepreneurial activity.

“With the recent addition of the beautiful new Cathedral Court, I also look forward to exploring further opportunities for fresh community engagement in this exciting building, which has successfully combined traditional and modern architecture to stunning effect.

Canon Peter concluded:

“To be part of a Diocese which is so clearly focussed on growth and mission through Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities is very exciting and I look forward to being able to lead the Cathedral in actively contributing to this work in the years to come. I am praying for Blackburn Cathedral; its staff and congregation and I am looking forward to meeting and working closely with as many as possible as I prepare for the new role.”

Speaking about the appointment, the Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev. Peter Forster said: “Canon Peter Howell-Jones has had a major impact upon Chester Cathedral in his time as Vice-Dean. He leaves the Cathedral in a much better financial and administrative state, largely due to his work. We wish him every blessing in the new challenges and opportunities which he will have.”

And the Dean of Chester, The Very Reverend Professor Gordon McPhate, added:

“In Peter Howell-Jones Blackburn Cathedral is fortunate to receive an enthusiastic, energetic and mission-minded priest who has been instrumental in transforming Chester Cathedral in recent years.”