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Durham Cathedral’s Illumination Window to be formally dedicated to Sara Pilkington on Saturday 11 May

10 May 2019

Tomorrow the Illumination Window is to be formally dedicated at a service at Durham Cathedral to Durham University student, Sara Aeron Florence Pilkington, who sadly passed away from a cardiac-related condition in 2012.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham will dedicate the window during Evensong at 5.15pm to the greater glory of God, in memory of Sara, and as a symbol of the strong working and historic relationship between the cathedral and the university.

The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel said, ‘Stained glass lifts our minds and hearts closer to God. This stunning new window catches the eye of the observer beautifully and invites us to look deeper into our lives and upwards towards God who is the source of comfort and love at the most difficult times of our lives. By it we remember Sara; through it we see God.’

During the service, a friend of Sara’s will read a poem by Byron and Durham Cathedral Choir will sing ‘The Bluebird’ by Stanford – echoing the presence of birds in flight in the new window. Guests, including members of Sara’s family, friends, Durham University peers, academics, cathedral staff and Mel Howse, the designer and creator of the window, will gather to light candles in Sara’s memory. Mel Howse will also read a lesson, with the Reverend Jonathan Lawson giving the address.

Professor Joe Elliott, Principal of Collingwood College at Durham University, said: ‘Sara was a delightful young woman whose energy and creativity made a huge contribution to our College community. Her name lives on in Collingwood and is instantly recognisable to all of our current students. A plaque in the college grounds states that her smile lit up the world; a sentiment that is ably projected by this beautiful memorial window.’

The service will be the culmination of a six year process which has seen Sara’s parents, Jools and Jonathan Pilkington, working in close collaboration with the cathedral and also for the last three years with Mel Howse to establish a permanent and beautiful memorial for their daughter in such a significant location.

Sara’s parents said: ‘Our aim has always been to establish a beautiful student window in Sara’s name within the cathedral in a special place that the students can call their own. A place for quiet reflection in times of need or indeed in times of joy. However, we all continue to learn as we go through life so we hope Sara’s window will in some way reach out to all regardless of faith or wherever they are on their own spiritual pathway through life. We truly hope the window will illuminate peoples’ lives in so many different ways.’

An interpretation board will be permanently in place below the window from Saturday 11 May and Durham Cathedral guides and stewards will also be on hand should visitors have any questions.