THE financial woes of a city’s cathedral is no pipe dream for two “extremely talented” organists who have found themselves at the centre of redundancy claims.

Following a reduction in the budget, St Asaph Cathedral has been forced into cost-cutting measures, including a “small number” of redundancies.

A redundancy process is already underway. It is understood that both Alan McGuinness, organist and master of the choristers, and John Hosking, assistant organist, have been affected - although this has not been confirmed by the Diocese of St Asaph. The Journal’s request for confirmation was turned down.

One member of the congregation told the Journal that both Mr McGuinness’s name and Mr Hosking’s name had been omitted from the staff list at the bottom of the cathedral services and events list for August.

It is believed the job losses may result in the men losing their homes, as they are tied to their posts.

Both men have been contacted for comment. Mr Hosking said he was unable to speak on the matter.

A spokesperson for the diocese said: “Following a reduction in the budget, which has been under financial pressure for some time, we have had to review our financial position.

“We have already put in place a number of different cost cutting strategies, including non-staff related cost saving. However, it is with the greatest regret that we now have to consider further cost-cutting measures, which are likely to involve making a small number of redundancies unless any viable alternatives can be found.

“We can confirm that we have begun the redundancy process but in the interest of those affected, we cannot comment further until that process has been completed.

“We can however give our assurances that arrangements will be put in place to ensure that the Cathedral continues to provide the same high standards of music and worship for principal cathedral and diocesan services.”

A 2018 annual report for the Diocese of St Asaph said that the largest element of the annual diocesan budget - 79 per cent - related to clergy costs.

It stated: “There was a small increase of one per cent in the Mission Area Share in 2017 to cover an increase of 0.8 per cent in clergy stipends and lay salaries, and an increase of 2.5 per cent in clergy housing costs.

“The accounts show a deficit for the year on the general fund of £323,892. The budgeted deficit was £296,359 so this represents an increase of £27,533 on the original forecast. However, the original budget did not include the unexpectedly large increase in the Clergy Pension Scheme which increased our costs by approximately £90,000.”

Cllr Colin Hardie, mayor of St Asaph, said: “This is a really sad time for St Asaph. The cathedral, like any other organisation nowadays, is having to operate under ever increasing financial constraints. Nevertheless, it is extremely disappointing to learn of these redundancies amongst Cathedral personnel.

“Alan and John, both of whom, I know personally are well known and extremely talented musicians whose contributions to the Cathedral programmes over recent years have been greatly appreciated.

“Perhaps some wealthy benefactor would like to sponsor one or both of these positions.”

Earlier this year, new facilities – costing more than £600,000 –were opened. A third of a million-pound extension and refurbishment of the cathedral’s vestries created a new Translators’ Tearoom, gender-neutral toilets and a community meeting space. The project was funded by more than £130,000 of grants secured from various bodies, including WREN – £50,000 – and the Garfield Weston Foundation, £25,000. The rest of the money was raised by the cathedral or had been left as legacies.

A £286,000 grant from the National Lottery went towards the creation of a major interactive project that features interactive displays.

Music has been offered in St Asaph Cathedral for centuries.

Carol Rees Field, organist and choirmistress at St Thomas’ Church in Rhyl, said: “Although not being privy, of course to the full facts or background that has resulted in this regrettable and painful situation, I am naturally most concerned, and wholeheartedly support the safeguarding of the long-established musical reputation that is synonymous with St Asaph Cathedral.

“Under the dedicated commitment of the outstanding professional staff, the Cathedral enjoys a most enviable status spanning many decades for its exceptionally high musical standards, not least in teaching and encouraging young choristers, who gain so much from the traditions and disciplines of choral music, which is of paramount importance for today’s youth, giving them a focus and appreciation of that heritage and tradition.

“On a personal level, I have had a long association with the Cathedral, and have benefited in my musical career from the expert tuition and guidance of past and present organists at St Asaph.

“I strongly support all efforts to ensure that this vital and enhancing element of worship is maintained, as will music lovers throughout the diocese.”