New Lay Canons appointed at York Minster


New Lay Canons appointed at York Minster

(Photos: Duncan Lomax)

The Archbishop of York, The Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, has approved the appointments of four new Lay Canons to the Chapter of York, the governing body responsible for overseeing the day-to-day running of York Minster. The new canons were appointed following a competitive process earlier this year that was delayed due to the pandemic. The appointments are for an initial period of three years and will take effect from Thursday 10th September.

Commenting on the appointments, the Dean of York, The Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost said:  “Claire, Nimble, Lynne and Alan bring enormous talent, experience, expertise and knowledge to Chapter, the governing body of York Minster, at what must surely be one of the most critical periods in the long history of this cathedral.

“I’m sure their involvement will play a crucial part in enabling this remarkable institution to respond to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.  I’m delighted to welcome them.”

Sir William Worsley, the Chair of the Nominations Committee, added: “These appointments bring people with valuable skills to the Chapter at this challenging time. They will help strengthen the governance of the Minster and I look forward to them joining us.”

York Minster’s four new Lay Canons are:

Claire Townson - Lay Canon and Prebendary of Wistow

Currently Director of Corporate Services at Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Claire is an HR professional with extensive experience of providing strategic HR expertise at director level in commercial and charitable organisations.  Claire has successfully led the design and implementation of cultural change strategies and is passionate about ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded in all aspects of an organisation’s strategic aims.


Peter John Stuart (known as Nimble) Thompson, Lay Canon and Prebendary of Strensall

A lawyer by training, Nimble Thompson built up a large commercial litigation practice in Leeds, becoming a Managing Partner for the firm which developed into the dynamic global legal firm Eversheds.  Passionate about good governance, customer service, sustainable business and good people, Nimble has served as non-executive director for a number of companies and organisations in the North of England and is a serving school governor.


Lynne Elizabeth Tembey OBE, Lay Canon and Prebendary of Grindal

Lynne has been involved with Mothers' Union for more than 40 years holding several leadership roles culminating in the role of Worldwide President of Mothers' Union (2013-2018). In 2018, Lynne received the Cross of St. Augustine from the Archbishop of Canterbury for services to the Anglican Communion. In 2019, she received an OBE in recognition of her services to Mothers' Union, to women and to families. In 2020 she was awarded a Senior Fellowship from Liverpool Hope University for her work.


Alan David Dunsmore, Lay Canon and Prebendary of Bramham.

A chartered accountant by training, Alan is Chief Executive of LSE listed company Severfield Plc, the largest structural steel fabricator in the UK and Ireland.  The company is growing its presence in Europe and has a joint venture with India.  Alan has a 20-year track record of success as a finance director with consistent achievement of financial targets, driving business efficiency and strong financial management.


The new Lay Canons will be collated by the Archbishop of York, swearing traditional oaths in a ceremony at York Minster on 10th September. Collation will be followed by Admission to the Chapter of York and to the College of Canons of York Minster in the Minster’s medieval Chapter House. The new Lay Canons will finally be installed in their canonical seats in the Minster during the 5.30pm service of Evensong. The ceremonies will be conducted in line with Church of England and Government requirements for physical distancing.

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