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A Golden Weathervane for Chichester Cathedral’s Spire… Signals a World First for the Cathedral and Fairtrade Gold

On Wednesday 2nd November a team of steeplejacks will install an extremely special weathervane on the top of Chichester Cathedral’s 277ft Spire.   Newly gilded in Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold, this unique weathervane is the result of a pioneering collaboration between Chichester Cathedral, Chichester-based ethical jewellers Cred and the Fairtrade Foundation.  When the gilded weathervane is positioned on top of the Cathedral Spire – it will be the first time ever that Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold has been displayed on a public building.

The Fairtrade Golden Weathervane at Chicester Cathedral

The gold covering the weathervane was responsibly sourced by Chichester’s Cred jewellers from the Sotrami Mine in Peru – one of the first mines in the world to be certified to Fairtrade standards.   Both the Sotrami Mine and Cred are part of a new – and revolutionary – programme of Fairtrade and Fairmined Certified Gold launched on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold is the world’s first independent ethical certification system for gold.  The certification enables businesses, from designers and retailers to fabricators and distributors, to offer their customers the guarantee of a product which has been responsibly mined.  Crucially, this means that small scale miners receive a fair price for gold, ensuring a more stable future for them and their communities.

The gilded Cathedral weathervane – a 3ft cockerel – will be installed at the top of the Cathedral Spire on the 2nd November. (Press and Media representatives are invited – see details below). A team of steeplejacks will climb 131ft – 205 steps – to reach the base of the Spire and then ascend a narrow 146ft ladder directly up the side of the Spire, arriving finally at a tiny scaffold platform erected especially for this project around the Spire Cap.

The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling, Dean of Chichester, explains why the project is so important: ‘Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold provides a lifeline for thousands of impoverished and exploited miners in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.  If every jeweller, and indeed every customer, were to insist on only gold sourced in this way then thousands of small scale miners, and their communities, would be guaranteed a better future.  The cost of this project has been borne by a private donor to whom we are very grateful, but the wider ambitions of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold are priceless.’

Chichester’s Cred jewellers have been pivotal to the realisation of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold and were one of the first ethical jewellers in the UK to produce collections sourced in this way.

Prior to the gilding of the weathervane, the gold was sent to Italy to be turned into gold leaf.  The Italian company Manetti is one of Florence’s oldest companies and the only remaining organisation in Europe who are able to turn gold into gold leaf.  The leaf needed to gild the weathervane is just 8 microns thick (1 micron is 1000th of a millimetre) and is made out of 23 ½ carat gold.  The gold started life as a pure 24 carat but the leafing process introduces a small amount of copper.

 

Endnotes:

 

1.  Press and media enquiries welcome.  Interviews and images available.

For any further information please contact Ruth Poyner at Chichester Cathedral on 01243 812482 or visitors@chichestercathedral.org.uk

For further information about Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold please contact Stuart Barber at the Fairtrade Foundation on 020 7440 7695 or email stuart.barber@fairtrade.org.uk

Photocall invitation to come and see the steeplejacks install the weathervane.  An event especially for Press and Media representatives will take place on the 2nd November at the Cathedral:

  • 10.30 onwards opportunity to film/photograph the weathervane at ground level.
  • 11.30 weathervane blessing and opportunity to meet/interview representatives from the Cathedral, the Fairtrade Foundation, Cred Jewellers and Manetti.
  • 12 noon onwards opportunity to film/photograph the steeplejacks install the weathervane at the top of the Spire.

If you would like to attend, or for further information please contact Ruth Poyner at Chichester Cathedral on 01243 812482 or visitors@chichestercathedral.org.uk

2. The weathervane was removed from the Spire for refurbishment earlier this year, as part of a five yearly survey of the Spire.  The steeplejacks have also recently completed maintenance work on the Spire stonework: Chichester Cathedral costs £1000 a day to maintain.  The Cathedral is famous for being both ancient and modern, where original medieval features exist alongside a famous collection of modern artworks, including works by Marc Chagall, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland.  Chichester Cathedral is open every day and all year with free entry www.chichestercathedral.org.uk

3. The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards.  Its vision is of a world in which justice and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures and practices so that everyone, through their work, can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood and develop their full potential.

The Fairtrade and Fairmined system means miners will receive a set Fairtrade minimum price for their gold, plus a Fairtrade premium to invest in community and business development projects, these include better working conditions, education, health and environmental restoration.  To date, three miners’ organisations, representing 2,500 miners and their families are being certified under the Fairtrade and Fairmined standards.

Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold was launched in February 2010.  Only products created from Fairtrade and Fairmined Certified Gold can bear the dual stamp of the Fairtrade and Fairmined marks.  The world’s oldest jeweller Garrard, pioneering ethical jeweller Cred, and luxury bespoke jeweller Harriet Kelsal were among the first 20 companies to launch Fairtrade and Fairmined collections.  To date, 34 leading jewellers are designing fabulous collections and one-off pieces.  www.fairtrade.org.uk/gold

4. Cred Jewellers have been trading for 10 years in Chichester and are part of the wider Cred Foundation.  Cred Jewellery was one of the first pioneering companies to launch Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold products and now 34 designers and jewellers have followed them nationwide.  Cred’s Greg Valerio was instrumental in the realisation of the Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold programme.  Greg’s passionate campaigning for change in the jewellery and mining industries led to the launch of the scheme earlier this year and this achievement was also recognised at the Observer Ethical Awards 2011 where Greg was named Global Campaigner of the Year.  To find out more visit www.credjewellery.com

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  • Reply
    Seba Silver
    November 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Great post. Thanks for sharing this exciting development, I find it interesting how the UK churches have fully embraced the Fairtrade culture and message.

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