Heard the one about the Archbishop and the Panda?

By Mark Dowd
October 13, 2009

Imagine a giant panda, lion, lioness and cubs and a Siberian tiger on a twenty five foot long ark outside one of Britain’s premier cathedrals.

Well if you come to the Millennium Courtyard in Southwark, (London Bridge) this evening, that’s exactly what you’ll see.

Dr Rowan Williams is giving our annual lecture: “The Climate Crisis: a Christian Response” and the ark is being provided by an individual who deserves the “climate campaigner of the year” award. Neil Winship lives in a small village on the River Deben in Suffolk. He’s an ex-army officer, yachting enthusiast and the kind of inspired, passionate individual who transforms everything around him through pure energy (the low carbon variety.)

The famous ark has now graced the waters at Felixstowe, Morecambe and last week, Neil got a bunch of rowers in Salford to escort the vessel down the Manchester Ship Canal and River Irwell to greet John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York. It really has to be seen to be believed. The hull is made of fibreglass (purchased off EBay) and the superstructure from a mixture of locally sourced softwoods. It measures 7.2 metres long, 2 metres high and weighs a daunting two tons. Neil has overnighted inside the ark on at least three occasions on the campaign trail and will head back to Suffolk (not by water, but by road with the Ark on a trailer) after this evening’s event.

Pictures of Neil’s ark in operation can be seen at:


The Archbishop has some poignant and arresting insights tonight into the relevance of the Noah narrative for our modern world. Do come along: there are just a few tickets left: call on 0207 324 4761 or email campaigns@operationnoah.org.


(c) Mark Dowd is campaign strategist for Operation Noah (www.operationnoah.org). He is well-known for his TV documentaries on the environment and other issues.

Learn more about the ARK Campaign and send Gordon Brown an origami ARK at www.operationnoah.org.

Church Action Starter Pack for climate change is here

Follow Operation Noah on Twitter: www.twitter.com/noahandhisark

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