The start of a global pandemic in 2020 changed the world. But in the midst of difficulty and distress, we've found that 2020 also saw our communities - both local and global - coming together to share support and find comfort in each other. We've enjoyed being a part of that through our online talks and courses which we've been running - so thank you for helping us to reach out and welcome people online!

As always, I am totally amazed by the range of subjects you cover, the quality of the speakers, and by the audience - such interesting people.

The year had started so promisingly in our Adult Learning programme, with events surrounding the Cathedral’s Anne Frank + You exhibition proving enriching and engaging. Over 400 people filled the nave to hear the moving story of a Holocaust survivor, and others flocked to hear local Rabbi Adam from St Albans Masorti Synagogue explore a Jewish response to the Holocaust.

Such a coming together and exchange of ideas and fellowship through learning was not to become a thing of the past, however, even when lockdown kept us away from the Cathedral and prevented our usual programme of events from going ahead. Thanks to the willingness of our tutors to plunge headfirst into the world of online teaching (in some cases, with only 24 hours’ warning), and to the bravery and enthusiasm of students and attendees to take a step into the unknown and join us online, the adult learning programme has not only survived, but flourished.

During 2020 we’ve marked online the 700th anniversary of Dante’s Divine Comedy and the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket, responded to contemporary issues such as the US Presidential Election and the problem of fake news, and enjoyed talks and courses exploring art, literature, history, theology and poetry. What is amazing, and testament to the quality of our speakers and the contributions of those attending, is that we’ve been joined by people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. From St Albans to the USA, India and South Africa, it has been a pleasure to welcome so many, enjoy their company, and share some much-needed social time together over zoom.

Thank you to everyone who has joined us – 1015 people attended events online throughout the year. Without your support, none of this would have been possible. Our programme continues into 2021, and all are most welcome to join in.

Your decision to run online courses has been an absolute revelation for me. I have relished each course that I have done, and they have undoubtedly been a high point for me from this strange year!

Image 1: Our Tutor in Literature readies himself for our very first online talk

Image 2: Our Poet-in-Residence, Dan Simpson, kept up creativity in a virtual poetry workshop © Dan Simpson