Apprentice gets Minster ready for her big day

APPRENTICE stonemason Vic Darley is helping preserve one of the UK's best-loved cathedrals – ahead of her wedding there next spring.

The 28-year-old is less than 12 months into a four-year apprenticeship at York Minster's stoneyard but has already carved her first block of magnesian limestone which will be used in the cathedral's multi-million pound restoration.

And Miss Darley is due to marry her fiance Tom Butler next spring, although the couple have yet to set a date. They met five years ago while both working at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, where Mr Butler, 30, is still employed as gallery manager.

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They got engaged in April after Mr Butler popped the question during a picnic at Kirkham Priory, between York and Malton.

Miss Darley, who grew up in Hull before gaining a heritage studies degree from Lincoln University, now lives in the city centre of York.

"I have always had an interest in history and heritage, and to be given the chance of an apprenticeship at somewhere like York Minster is a huge opportunity," she said.

"I must admit that I didn't have any experience of stonemasonry when I was given the apprenticeship, but I think they took a punt on me because they could see how passionate I am about it.

"It is a real privilege to work there. It will always be a special place as it is where I work, but to have my wedding there will make it all the more special."

Miss Darley began her apprenticeship in November last year, and her stonework is due to be put in place as a supporting block on the cathedral's east front.

Hundreds of limestone blocks are having to be either replaced or repaired on the cathedral as part of the Minster's massive restoration project, which is backed by the Yorkshire Post.

The development campaign also includes the York Minster Revealed scheme to pay for restoration of the great east window as well as improving public access to the cathedral.