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Teachers make papal chair

The 8ft chair is made of white ash and will be fitted with stained glass panels

The chair that Pope Benedict XVI will sit on during the beatification Mass of Cardinal Newman has been completed by teachers in Coventry.

The chair, made of white ash, was designed and crafted by Ian Hall, deputy head at Cardinal Newman school, with the help of two senior staff members.

The team have been working for three months to build not only the chair but three altars and a lectern that will also be used for the Mass.

Mr Hall, who worked as an engineer for 20 years before becoming a teacher, said they had worked weekends and for most of the summer holiday.

He said he wanted people to understand that the project was “not just about making pieces of furniture”.

“I’m a golf fanatic and for me it’s like being asked to play in the Ryder Cup,” he said. “It’s a way of giving something back to the faith. My children will be able to see it and say ‘my Dad made that’.”

The 8ft chair will be fitted with four stained glass panels depicting the images on the papal coat of arms: the bear, the moor’s head and the keys of St Peter. The shell on the velour cover is also taken from the papal crest.

The three altars, which will be finished next week, will be made out of white ash and fitted with stained glass. Side by side they will measure 18 feet across.

Mr Hall, who worked as a pattern maker for Rover and then at a small foundry in Gloucestershire, was helped with design by Paul Marano, assistant head teacher, and Frances Grearson, deputy head. He was also helped by his son, Christian.

He got involved in the project after Fr Timothy Menezes, parish priest at St Thomas More in Coventry, asked the school’s head teacher if she knew anyone who was up to the job.

The designs were approved by officials at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.