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York College welcomes Archbishop of York

THE ARCHBISHOP of York, Stephen Cottrell, admitted he faced “challenging questions” and enjoyed “fascinating conversations” during his first official visit to York College and University Centre.

Archbishop Stephen delivered an “Aspiration” talk and participated in a Q&A session in the Lecture Theatre.

No topics were off limits with the Archbishop giving full and frank answers to a wide-ranging host of challenging student questions, encompassing sensitive subjects such as the Ukraine war, the monarchy, reformation of the House of Lords, female bishops and homosexuality.

There were plenty of light-hearted stories to enjoy too after the Archbishop introduced himself to a large gathering of students and staff as our “neighbour” who lives down the road in “the big, fancy pad”.

Among the amusing anecdotes, he recalled a recent conversation with his wife Rebecca, who has forced him to buy a new pair of shoes for King Charles’ Coronation next month.

“I normally only buy a new pair of Dr. Martens every five years,” he informed staff and students. “Buy my wife spotted a big hole in one and said ‘There’s no way you can go to the coronation in those!’”

During the talk, the Archbishop expressed his belief that the only aspiration everybody should hold is to be the “very best version of themselves” and that we should all give “the gift of affirmation” to people and accept that “being you is good enough” in a modern age where we have become a “Nation of Junkies” bombarded with consumer advice and images on what will make us happy.

Archbishop Stephen added that Jesus Christ was his idea of what “a human being should be” and that we should all aspire not to judge people.

The Archbishop spoke and answered questions for one hour and even posed for selfies with students afterwards.

He had earlier enjoyed a tour of the College, conducted by three students who have been invited on a tour of Bishopthorpe Palace in return.

Archbishop Stephen also answered questions from a classroom of A Level students who are members of local churches and visited our Stonemasonry Workshop, where he chatted at length with tutor, Paul Hill, and Apprenticeship students, including Geraint Pounder, who has been working on York Minster’s South Quire Aisle Restoration Project during a two-week block release.

The Archbishop went on to discuss how, in his role as a House of Lords peer, he is lobbying support for the Online Safety Bill with the hope of “making the world a safer place”, in particular for young people, whilst also working to improve the provision of equipment and teaching skills for art subjects in education, being very passionate about enabling more people to explore the arts.

Commenting on his visit, Archbishop Stephen said:

"I had a wonderful time at York College. I spoke with many young people about aspiration: their aspirations for themselves, but also our aspirations for the world.

“It was hugely refreshing and encouraging to hear them share hopes and desires. I had some fascinating conversations and was asked some challenging questions. York College is in good heart!"

Ingrid Kellock, Director of Student Experience, said:

“Archbishop Stephen’s visit was a wonderful occasion for us and proved extremely popular with our students, who enjoyed the opportunity to put questions to him on a whole manner of topics and really appreciated his full and frank answers.”

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