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Canon Peter gets ready to leave ‘people’s cathedral’

PUBLISHED: 15:07 06 February 2015 | UPDATED: 15:52 06 February 2015

The Theatre Royal Panto Carol Service at St Peter Mancroft Church. The Rev Canon Peter Nokes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Theatre Royal Panto Carol Service at St Peter Mancroft Church. The Rev Canon Peter Nokes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2014

He is the man who led the “people’s cathedral” in the heart of Norwich into the 21st century... and helped to open its doors even wider to welcome both citizens and visitors.

The Forum and St Peter Mancroft Church at night.
1st March 2006
Picture: James Bass

For:  EDP SCENIC/ CALENDER
EDP Pics © 2006    Tel: (01603) 772434The Forum and St Peter Mancroft Church at night. 1st March 2006 Picture: James Bass For: EDP SCENIC/ CALENDER EDP Pics © 2006 Tel: (01603) 772434

The horrendous fire which destroyed the central library resulted in The Forum and millennium library and while some had their doubts about the futuristic development at the time it was welcomed with open arms by Canon Peter Nokes of St Peter Mancroft Church opposite.

The two buildings are now a glorious example of the ancient and the modern proving yet again that Norwich is a city with a rich history and an exciting future.

Not only did The Forum open its doors to the future in 2001 but so did our beloved St Peter Mancroft, one of the most beautiful parish churches in the country.

At the time Mr Nokes said: “People have said how dreadful it must be, but I think it is great and I want the church to be part of it.

The Norwich Evening News Carols for Christmas service is held in St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.The Norwich Evening News Carols for Christmas service is held in St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

“My vision is that rather than turn our back on this wonderful development we will actually embrace it both architecturally and emotionally,” he said.

That vision has become a reality with the church playing a leading role in so many lives.

Now Peter, aged 66, and his wife Judy are preparing to leave Norwich where they have lived since 1999 and the search will begin for a new vicar to take on the challenges and responsibilities at the helm of this magnificent church.

“We have so many memories. The people are wonderful. And this is a great church at the heart of city life. The support I have had since arriving has been incredible,” he said.

This son of a Manchester bank manager has thrown himself into city life since arriving, loving people of all ages and from all walks of life. From his church he has reached out into the community to do much good work.

He has played a key role as a member of the management committee of the wonderful Mancroft Advice Project which has helped more than 8,000 young people.

As the leader of the “church of the market” he takes services of all kinds, including many outside City Hall at the splendid war memorial, and various civic services.

Peter is an ever-present reminder of the importance of the Church of St Peter Mancroft to the people of Norwich. He is a man of the church who always sets the right tone wherever he is... and who does much work to help others at difficult times in their lives.

“You never know what the day will bring. That is one of the joys of the job. It has been a real privilege,” he said.

His work as the chaplain at Norwich Theatre Royal is always appreciated by both staff and visiting companies and, of course, the colourful pantomime carol service is a unique highlight at Christmas time which always attracts a “full house”.

“There are so many things we shall miss,” said Peter, a man who, while appreciating how tough the job can be, still has a fine sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye. He is a friend to many. His words and actions have helped many more.

As churchwardens Nicholas Jackson and Richard Turk and Reader John Pountain say: “Peter has been instrumental in not only encouraging young people and families into our congregation, but inspiring them to play an active role in the life of our church, from musical contributions and work with children to election to the PCC and even the roles of churchwardens.

“His open style of leadership has been liberating for many, encouraging everyone to have their say and to feel that they have a part to play in the life of the church community,” they add.

“He has walked the corridors of our city institutions – City Hall, The Forum, the Assembly House, the BBC and the Theatre Royal – and has been an ever-present reminder of the importance of the Church of St Peter Mancroft to the people of Norwich, alongside those secular institutions,” add the church members.

He worked as a teacher before entering the church, working in various parts of the country, until arriving in Norwich. He and wife have a daughter Katharine, who works as a lawyer, and son William, who is a doctor. He and Judy are moving to live at the Beauchamp Community at Malvern in Worcestershire.

They will be missed and they leave with our blessing... and thanks.

A special farewell service for the Rev Canon Peter Nokes will take place at St Peter Mancroft on Sunday February 15 at 10am.

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