Businesses across the UK are still recuperating from the effects of the pandemic, and Sheffield Cathedral want to reach out a helping hand. unLTD’s Sasha Mossman spoke to Ben Rossi, development manager at the Cathedral, to find out their plans to unite the Sheffield business community during the upcoming winter months

As one of the city’s most iconic and most-visited landmarks, Sheffield Cathedral has always welcomed both locals and visitors, day-in and day-out. For many, it’s a staple for any trip to Sheffield – whether this be for a coffee and a browse around the gift shop, or for a moment of contemplation and prayer.

Like all visitor spots in the UK, Sheffield Cathedral has felt the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – losing the masses of tourists it usually attracts during its closure through the lockdown.

A lack of visitors means a lack of funding – a problem which has affected businesses of all natures, shapes and sizes – however the team behind the day-to-day running of the Cathedral are working to find a solution to benefit both themselves and the local business community.

In an effort to simultaneously encourage people to take a visit during the colder months and support Sheffield businesses, the Cathedral will be hosting three events during October, November and December, completely free of charge for the public to enjoy. All the events will offer sponsorship opportunities for business across the Sheffield City Region, and the expected footfall would bring a mass of exposure to these.

Ben Rossi, development manager at Sheffield Cathedral, said: “We are all things to all people, and so people use the building for however they see fit. Whatever their background, we welcome them, and in doing so, we are able to bring people into the city centre.

“Once they’ve finished their visit to the Cathedral, people often browse the wonderful things the city has to offer – so for us, we find that driving that footfall into the city benefits the local community, too.

“Supporting the local community is essential to us. Our gift shop and coffee shop have always sourced local produce, such as Our Cow Molly, The Heavenly Coffee Company and Henderson’s Relish. The Cathedral is also a flexible and inspirational venue for events and celebrations, for example, graduation ceremonies for Sheffield College.

“During lockdown, the situation forced the Cathedral to become more innovative, which included working with View3D from Barnsley, to create an amazing virtual tour of the Cathedral. We also worked with ETICloud to improve the IT infrastructure in the Cathedral to offer livestream services.”

The first event, which will span 3-29 October, is named Leaves of the Trees: Reflective Coronavirus Memorial and will be dedicated to those lost to the pandemic. Created by sculptor Peter Walker, the memorial features 5,000 steel sycamore maple leaves appearing like naturally fallen autumn leaves – all featuring the same message: HOPE. Steel, the choice of material for the leaves is especially appropriate to Sheffield, and reminds us all of our resilience and collective strength. Following this event, from 23 October to 19 November, the Cathedral will be hosting an exhibition called ‘The Foundry’. This is a rescheduled event that was intended to take place this summer and is a nod to Sheffield’s steel history. The Foundry includes historical Pathé film footage   of the illustrious steel industry and features a wide range of dedicated steel sculptures.

Ben continued: “The part the steel industry has played in pulling the city together, not least during difficult times, is something worth honouring and we wanted to be able to do that.”

Similar to the Son et Lumiere light show that took place during the festive period last year, the Cathedral will be hosting another outdoor light show this December named ‘In the Beginning’, with a huge host of small Christmas trees staged inside. Interested schools, charities and businesses are invited to sponsor a Christmas tree.

Ben continued: “The Christmas lights will be a gift to the people of Sheffield, to say; ‘come along and enjoy the show after a long and challenging year, for no extra charge.’

“We just want to help bring joy back into people’s lives. If it’s successful, we’d love to make it an annual event.”

All three events come with the opportunity for local businesses to take part in sponsorship in order to support the Cathedral and there’s also the chance to join their Corporate Patrons scheme.

Ben added: “We’re encouraging people to collaborate with the Cathedral as we see it as the main hub for the city – we help to put Sheffield on the map.

“The Cathedral is such a massive draw for people visiting Sheffield – the building itself is nearly 1,000 years old and we see more than 250,000 people come to visit us each year, which is why we put on the  events.

“We support businesses, not only by the footfall we bring into the local community but the promotional opportunities we hold across our networks.

“The Cathedral has a platform like no other.”