After all the time and effort, yesterday was finally the day when the Banner was formally presented to Durham Cathedral, and dedicated to St Cuthbert.
There was a lot arranged for the day. There's an annual pilgrimage from Chester-le-Street to Durham, following the route taken by the monks who carried St Cuthbert's coffin, 1,200 years ago. I must admit I didn't go on that, but met the pilgrims in Durham's market square, with my family and friends.
There were a lot of people there, and most of them were there to see the Banner (including my mum, dad and brother-in-law, on the bottom right).
I abandoned my nearest and dearest, and went to the Town Hall, where the Banner was being kept temporarily. It was already on its pole, ready to go:
The local press were there too, and I gave my first ever TV interview, for the BBC.
It was brought out into the square, to a spontaneous round of applause, then Chris Kilkenny, the Northumbrian Association's historian, gave a short and very entertaining speech on its history:
With a bit of assistance, Mr Cuthbert, the project's sponsor, picked it up:
With it securely in its harness, and accompanied by pipe and drum, Mr Cuthbert lead the pilgrims and everyone else, about 200 people in all, through the streets of Durham:
We soon arrived at the Cathedral itself:
And the Banner was met at the door by the Dean:
Joined by the Bishop of Jarrow, there were some speeches and prayers to the assembled pilgrims:
It was then taken into the Cathedral, for a short service.
Photography is not allowed inside, without special permission, but I have to admit to sneaking a picture of the Banner, arranged on a stand inside St Cuthbert's shrine, next to his tomb (it's a bit blurred as light levels were pretty low):
I don't have any photos at all of this, but there was a beautiful dedication service, lead by the Dean and the Bishop, at Evensong. There were readings and prayers, the Cathedral's marvellous choir sang, and the Banner was formally led in procession for the first time, with the entire congregation following.
It was all just wonderful, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world - I feel very lucky and very proud to have been part of something so special.
It's had quite a lot of coverage in the local press, so if you'd like to read more, here are a few links:
BBC News: St Cuthbert's Durham Cathedral funded by namesake businessman (with video, including a short interview with me)
Northern Echo: New banner celebrates the life of St Cuthbert
The Journal: St Cuthbert’s banner returns home to Durham Cathedral
Sunderland Echo: St Cuthbert’s banner paraded through Durham