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Dean's off to a life of 'walking and the cello'

RETIRING Dean of Blackburn the Very Rev David Frayne has many fond memories to take with him when he leaves his post in just over a week's time.

Mr Frayne, 66, and his wife Liz are now packing in preparation for their move to an idyllic south-facing cottage in Dorset. The Dean, who arrived in Blackburn in December 1992, also wants to spend time walking, playing the cello and "learning to be more proficient with the computer and in DIY and gardening".

And the couple are also looking forward to being closer to their daughter, who lives near Salisbury and gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, in March.

Mr Frayne has many fond memories of Blackburn, many of which have embraced the wider community as well as the cathedral's regular congregation.

"My aim since day one has been to build on the life of the cathedral, to make it as open as possible to those living in the borough and the county," he said. "Some of the most exciting occasions while I have been here have been to do with the total community, such as Princess Diana's death. We had 20 books of condolence which people came to sign, and there was a great procession of people all that week -- and all those flowers."

Mr Frayne met the princess when she opened a drugs centre in Bristol, where he was vicar of St Mary Redcliffe with Temple prior to becoming Dean of Blackburn.

Another memorable occasion was The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's Golden Wedding anniversary, when the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire invited other 50th anniversary couples to the cathedral for a service of celebration.

Mr Frayne and his wife, who celebrated their ruby wedding in April, have their roots in the south of England but have enjoyed discovering the delights of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

"I will be very sorry to leave Blackburn, where we have made lots of friends," Mr Frayne said.

"I have tried to play a part in the life of the town through hosting various events at the cathedral, welcoming successive Mayors and hosting civic services. I have enjoyed that."

Probably his greatest achievement during his time in Blackburn was to fundraise for a project to rebuild the lantern tower of the cathedral between 1996 and 1999 at a cost of almost £1million.

And he is delighted that, before he retires on Sunday weekthe entire interior redecoration of the cathedral will be completed.

"I have always found that if the Church communicates well with folk who are concerned for its wellbeing, then little by little funds will come in -- some large, some small, but all very welcome," he said.

Mrs Frayne, who retired this year, worked as a primary school teacher and has been a supply teacher since the couple moved to Blackburn. Mr Frayne has enjoyed links with schools since he was ordained in 1960 in the London diocese of Southwark and after moving to Blackburn became a governor at St Wilfrid's and Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and chairman of the diocesan board of education.

"It is good that religious education maintains a high profile in this country but we must make sure that we have enough teachers of religious conviction to make the subject real and exciting. There is a great need to encourage vocations to teaching as well as to the ministry of the Church," he said.

Mr Frayne is pleased that during his time at the cathedral choirs have blossomed and the cathedral girls' choir was formed, which regularly broadcasts on Radio 4. Through Blackburn church leaders' group he founded the Blackburn churches' action project which recycles furniture to be distributed to people in need.

"I have tried to widen the ministry of the cathedral to embrace churches of other denominations as fully as possible and members of other faiths in appropriate ways," he said. "One of the features of the ministry is that you never know what seeds you have sown that have helped people -- and conversely how many people may not have been helped by your ministry!

"I have always seen the ministry of the cathedral as one that opens up ways of worship and entering into God in a variety of ways.

"I wish the borough well for its 150th anniversary and I am very pleased I am here to take part in the celebrations. We will leave with great memories and the assurance of our thoughts and prayers for the future, but I look forward to coming back to see the completion of the regeneration programme in which the cathedral will play its part."

Members of the public can say goodbye to Mr Frayne on Saturday, September 8, when the cathedral choirs will give an informal gala concert at 7.30pm. There will be farewell services the following day at 10.30am and 3pm.

He is to be succeeded on December 1 by the Rev Christopher Armstrong, who is now vicar of St Martin's in Scarborough.

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