from St Anne's

Canon in Residence – Canon Gill Withers

On Thursday 8th August, Belfast Cathedral began their weekly Canon in Residence development. This new addition to the Cathedral will ensure that once a week, each Canon of the Cathedral will be in residence as a source of support for visitors, the congregation, volunteers and members of staff!

Not only will our Canons provide support, but this development will also give them a chance to see how the Cathedral is used on a day to day basis, to see who comes here and to experience what this space means to the community. Our Canons usually come to the Cathedral for special services, meaning that they don’t always get to see the weekday worshipping life of the Cathedral.

Our Canons will be available to visitors as a source of spiritual support and advice. Their specified “surgery hour” which will be dedicated to any visitors who need support, will be between 2-3pm, however, the Canons will be in the Cathedral from 10am until the end of Evening Prayer.

This development began with Canon Gill Withers, who alongside her responsibility of being a Canon of Belfast Cathedral, is also the Area Dean for the Ards, and is Rector of Greyabbey, Kircubbin, Ballyphilip and Ard Quin Parishes. In 2004, Gill also acted as Bishop Harold’s Chaplin.

On top of these duties, Canon Withers is also an accomplished singer and double bass player. Not only did she teach music for 22 years, but she sung in the Gas Light Group for 30 years at the height of the Troubles, bringing light and entertainment to the community through ballads and stories. Canon Withers describes her passion for singing, “I love to sing, it’s part of my DNA”…

Canon Withers’ love for music shines through every aspect of her life, right down to the smallest details, for example – in the name of her cat Mozart!

Named after Canon Withers' favourite composer, Mozart the Cat is just 4 years old!

One of her favourite pastimes is reading the Church of Ireland Gazette...

Canon Withers, [pictured below] has had a long history with Belfast Cathedral. This chair, situated in the Choir Stalls, was given in memory of her father’s uncle, Thomas Withers, “Uncle Tommy”, by his wife and sister Mary in 1981.

Featured here in one of her favourite parts of the Cathedral, Canon Withers expressed how Rosamond Praeger's sculptures, which can be found throughout the Cathedral, is a particular attraction.

While stationed at the Cathedral on the 8th August, Canon Withers had the pleasure of meeting the late Dean Sammy Crook’s granddaughter, who came to the Cathedral to pay her respects in the Columbarium. This mixture of helping with an individual's spiritual healing, and working among the artistic merits of the Cathedral, is a day in the life of a Cathedral Canon.