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Storm in a tea cup as cathedral stewards quit over refreshments
AN UNHOLY row has broken out over the tea and biscuits offered to volunteers at Durham Cathedral.
Until recently, the many volunteers who help out at the 900-year-old World Heritage Site were offered a complimentary hot drink and a scone in the Undercroft Restaurant as a way of thanking them for putting in an unpaid shift.
It is claimed the scone was withdrawn about 14 months ago and now volunteer stewards have been asked to take their tea elsewhere.
One disgruntled volunteer who quit over the changes said a number of colleagues had also walked out.
“We are the face of the cathedral. Some people have been volunteering for ten or 15 years.
“We’re not doing it for the scone and cup of coffee, but it was a nice token,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the cathedral said it had “temporarily” asked volunteer stewards to take their refreshments break in another part of the cathedral due to the Undercroft being full.
She said: “The summer is the busiest time of year for us, as visitors come from both far and near to see the cathedral.
“During a normal summer period our restaurant never has enough seating space.
“This summer, as we anticipated, because of the Lindisfarne Gospels being on display on the World Heritage Site, we are even busier and the Undercroft Restaurant is full to capacity most days, with many visitors not being able to use its facilities because of lack of space.
“We have therefore temporarily asked our volunteer stewards to take their refreshments breaks in another part of the cathedral.”
The spokeswoman restated the cathedral’s appreciation for its volunteers, saying: “We are continuing to provide our volunteers with complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits, during their shifts on duty with us and we are extremely grateful for all that they do.
“It is anticipated that as things quieten down in the autumn we will revert to the previous arrangement of our volunteers taking their refreshments in the Undercroft Restaurant.
“The cathedral could not function without volunteer help and we appreciate the time they give to us to welcome more than 600,000 visitors each year.”
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