Why we love St Albans
PUBLISHED: 15:56 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 February 2013
It is a truth universally acknowledged that St Albans is a beautiful city. The city, however, could not have bloomed and prospered without the work, love and commitment of residents and workers. Damion Roberts speaks to four people about the city ...
It is a truth universally acknowledged that St Albans is a beautiful city. The city, however, could not have bloomed and prospered without the hard work, love and commitment of local residents and workers. Here, Damion Roberts speaks to four such people about their jobs and the city they love
MATT Adams is the editor of The Herts Advertiser newspaper which is based in St Albans. He took over from editor Noel Cantillon in April but has now settled into the job and spent time discovering his new surroundings after leaving his job at the Essex Chronicle.
'In the short time I've been living here, I have tried my best to explore as many different facets of the city as possible. I love grabbing a cup of coffee and a book and settling down for an hour or so in the Abbey Orchard or mooching around George Street and Fishpool Street, popping in for a pint in one of the local pubs. There is much more to the city than I initially realised. I've enjoyed exploring the area and finding those hidden gems which only locals know about.'
Matt, who is 38 and lives with girlfriend Laura and cat Jess, is a self-confessed comic book and Dr Who geek but believes his mother doesn't seem to understand what his job entails.
'I think her impressions of newspapers come from soap operas which couldn't be further from reality. Unless you're a newspaperman I don't think anyone else can really understand the passion you feel for your craft.'
Dean of St Albans
AS Dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John combines the role of a priest with a job rather like that of a chairman or chief executive as he oversees around 50 paid staff, 1,000 volunteers and 1,500 regular members at St Albans Cathedral.
'It's a very active place,' he says. 'As Dean I am ultimately responsible for all aspects of the cathedral's work, so I suppose you could compare it to being a chairman of the board or a CEO. But I am helped by a superb team of clergy and lay colleagues.
'The cathedral is a marvellous, holy place and an important centre of pilgrimage, being the place where Saint Alban was martyred.
'Alban was the first Christian in the country to give his life up for the faith, around 250AD. That makes the cathedral unique in this country. Worship has been going on here for more than 1,750 years.'
Before filling the vacancy at St Albans more than five years ago, Jeffrey was a Canon of Southwark Cathedral and Director of Training in the Southwark Diocese.
He works six days a week at the cathedral, usually having Wednesday off, and although he had no previous links with the city, he now happily calls it home.
'The city is a great place to live, and has been very welcoming and supportive. It's busy too and I very much enjoy it.
'I am afraid my favourite recreation is to eat out... I'm a regular at Caf Rouge next door to the cathedral; it's a very friendly place - and I like St Michael's Manor for a special occasion.'
TRESTLE Theatre Company is a physical storytelling theatre which tours the UK and abroad. Through the triple strands of the touring theatre, the chapel-based performance arm Arts Base and training and the workshop-based Taking Part, the theatre has been entertaining and educating since 1981.
Its administrative producer is Natalie Richardson who has been involved with the theatre since 2004 after spending most of her adult life working in theatre management in London.
A Hertfordshire girl at heart - born in Cuffley, attended Hatfield Girls' School - Natalie has enjoyed her time in St Albans and the theatre but is about to take some time off as she is expecting a baby in January.
'The theatre is the first touring company to have a base and with it we have the capability to create everything here, we utilise the theatre to create our work. We've been able to establish ourselves as a community association and to bring members of the public in to work with us and to also use the space for their own work.
'I'm glad I came back to work in Hertfordshire and especially St Albans which has a rich history of theatre and the arts. It's a wonderful place to work and it looks so beautiful. I really like the fact that there are lots of local people interested in what we do and who want to be a part of it as we love being part of the community and having everyone join together.'
The theatre is also registered to host weddings, although none of the current staff has taken the theatre up on the offer - 'Maybe it'd be a little bit strange as they would be getting married in their work venue, but other couples have really enjoyed it,' Natalie adds.
MICHAEL Middleditch has lived in St Albans since 1970 and has made a career from drawing maps of some of the world's greatest cities.
New York, Paris and London are just three metropolises that Michael, a cartographer, has journeyed to for his Penguin series of map guides, but he also spent time walking the streets of St Albans for exactly the same reason.
And even though he is now 73, he is still preparing maps for publication despite losing an arm due to cancer.
'I've travelled all over the world and go to all these places to get as much information as possible to construct a whole book. I used to do it in the traditional way but now, as I have lost an arm, I do it by computer and in many ways this actually makes it easier for me.
'I did St Albans in 1988 after walking all around the city but it's changing all the time and it has changed a lot since then. But that's what makes a map so interesting; it's a journey of discovery.
'I think St Albans is one of the nicest cities around London. It's got plenty of history and culture and you have that lovely belt of greenery around it.'
Michael's work has won many awards, including a British Cartographic Award for his St Albans map, and despite spending 56 years in the business he has no desire to retire just yet.
'I'm getting my London map ready to print and I'm still enjoying my work, something I have done all my life.'