St. Macartin's Cathedral
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
The Verger's Page
(last updated 1st May 2012)
After fifty years of faithful service as Verger to our cathedral, we reckon that Mr Jack Watson thoroughly deserves his own page on the website, his own little corner on the Worldwide Web!
Mr Raymond Campbell delivered the following speech which was penned by Mr Sam Morrow (Hon. Secretary to the Select Vestry).
It is my pleasure, on behalf of the Parish of Enniskillen, to pay tribute to Mr Jack Watson who has been Verger of this cathedral for a period of fifty years. He was appointed at a meeting of the Select Vestry held on 15th March 1962. His duties included caretaking of the hall and the maintenance of all the grounds as well as those duties associated with the cathedral. The grounds at that time were not in their present condition and grass maintenance involved heavy work mowing with a scythe. From the start the Watsons lived in the Caretakerís House.
In 1974, duties in relation to the hall and cathedral were split with Jack retaining responsibility for the cathedral. The Watsons then moved to their present home in Coleshill Park. Until relatively recent times the heating furnace was fuelled using coke. Stoking was a time consuming and demanding job which involved Jack in carrying of substantial amounts of fuel down the steps to the heating unit and the removal of ash in the reverse order. The heater required several stokings during the day with the fire going out for de-clinkering on only one day in the week. The conversion of the heating unit to oil firing in 1993 was a major advance. It not only eased Jackís workload but it also enabled a much more effective heat control system to be used.
The duties associated with the position of Verger are many. The most obvious is that of cleaning both the inside and on the approaches to the cathedral. Preparing the cathedral for acts of worship is a primary function. This involves opening up the building and planning in advance to have the heating system switched on in good time. Jack is normally to found at the main door at each service, wearing his gown, extending a welcome to those who are coming to worship. A conservative estimate indicates that Jack will have prepared the cathedral for at least eight thousand acts of worship during his fifty years of service. Most of these were for parishioners but of course there were many other important occasions including the attendance of Royalty and the Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland and of the United Kingdom.
In addition to normal services in the cathedral there are those happy occasions when families and friends gather in the cathedral to celebrate marriage. Again, Jack makes careful preparation for these ceremonies. It is estimated that during his time here Jack will have made preparations for three hundred weddings. There are also the sad family occasions. If the pattern of the past seventeen years has been typical of the earlier years then Jack will have witnessed around eleven hundred funerals in the cathedral.
The role of Verger involves close working relationships with others who have responsibilities in the cathedral. Jack has worked under five Rectors, four of those have also been Deans of Clogher. In addition to the Rectors, there have been twelve Curates or Assistants during the fifty years.Fifty different churchwardens served during the fifty years. Jack maintained an excellent and harmonious working relationship with all these people.
In conclusion, I will ask Mrs Maud Shaw, Peopleís Churchwarden, on behalf of the parish to hand over this gift to Jack. This not a retirement gift and we trust that Jack will be long spared to continue giving the standard of service which we, the parishioners of St Macartinís cathedral, value so highly.
The Select Vestry decided to express the church's gratitude to Jack by making a presentation of a plaque to him and a crystal bowl to his wife. This was duly carried out at the evening service on Sunday 25th March 2012 in the presence of our Bishop.
Pictured from left to right: Mr Raymond Campbell (Rector's Churchwarden), Rev. Alistair Warke (Curate) , Mr Jack Watson (Verger), the Right Rev.John McDowell (Bishop of Clogher) , Mrs Ethel Watson, the Very Rev. Kenneth Hall (Cathedral Rector and Dean of Clogher), Mrs Maud Shaw (People's Churchwarden).
And reproduced from our January 2012 magazine:
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