Hereford Cathedral is hosting a Hackathon for AS-level or equivalent students on Wednesday 2 May. The event will focus on developing ideas for renovating and using Old Chapel, a historic space within the cathedral’s College Cloisters. It forms part of the activity plan for the development of the eastern range of the cloisters, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

College Cloisters was once the home of the College of Vicars Choral, who sang services in the cathedral from medieval times until the dissolution of the college in 1937, when the buildings were taken over by the cathedral. They now house the cathedral’s music department, administrative offices, and some staff accommodation. Dating from the fifteenth century, the buildings include a covered walkway around an open central quadrangle and are a unique example of medieval domestic architecture.  They are currently in urgent need of repair and restoration to conserve the historic fabric and provide new and better facilities for cathedral staff and visitors.

Work on this project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is scheduled to start in 2019 and will include restoration of the Vicars Choral’s chapel. The cathedral is keen to involve young people in helping to determine how Old Chapel might be effectively used in the future for a variety of events and activities, while still telling the story of the cloisters and the lives of the vicars choral who lived and worked there.

Hackathons are creative, problem-solving events, bringing together people from different backgrounds and with different skill sets. Hereford Cathedral’s event will be run by Sarah Hollingdale, Activity Plan Development Officer for the Eastern Cloisters Project, assisted by the cathedral’s recently-established Youth Board. Students will be invited to develop ideas for using and equipping The Old Chapel. They will be taught about methods and models of innovation, which they can apply to a range of contexts. The Hackathon will also build valuable skills: interdisciplinary perspectives, team-working, creative problem solving, and pitching.

Sarah Hollingdale said: ‘Participating in the Hackathon will give students confidence in similar situations in the future as well – group interviews and graduate scheme assessment days often use these kinds of activities to assess candidates. The Hackathon is also a perfect experience to talk about in job interviews or on personal statements.’

The students’ proposals will be judged by Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, Provost and Chief Academic Officer of NMiTE. All participants will receive a delegate pack, packed full of useful freebies, and the winning team will also win a prize – a £150 Amazon voucher to share between them.

The event begins at 1 pm and will run until around 7 pm.

Hereford Cathedral is still keen to hear from any schools, sixth forms or colleges that would like to be involved, as well as home education groups. Individual sixth form students are also welcome to sign up to attend independently. Anyone interested in participating should email the Activity Plan Development Officer for the Eastern Cloisters Project at [email protected]

Pictured above: Sarah Hollingdale with members of Hereford cathedral Youth Board

Pictured below: Old Chapel