George Keast 18 October 2017

If someone had said to me before I joined Speed that in a few months’ time I’d be installing a 10m x 3m mural smack-bang in the middle of the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral in London, I would have guffawed obnoxiously and replied with the word “impossible”.

I also would have been so wrong…

Sure enough, at the beginning of October I was stood in one of the world’s most famous religious landmarks at 10 o’clock on a Sunday night, gazing up in awe at this magical collage of almost 300 pieces of artwork from churches all over the country.

The mural was the finished product of a competition run by our wonderful client Ecclesiastical, where church members were tasked with submitting a piece of A3 artwork that encapsulated their church’s role and contribution to their local community.

We came up with the idea in the Autumn of 2016 and pitched it to Ecclesiastical as part of our wider campaign called the ‘Fabric of the Community’. A whole year later, it now literally is a fabric depicting communities.

The effort and thought that went into all the entries was quite extraordinary and very touching. We saw everything from tapestries to kids’ drawings, interactive pieces with doors that opened and – wait for it – an ark. Yes, an actual ARK made of wood!

All entries were digitally added to the final design and the impressive structure – suitably named the Great Community Mural – stood proudly on display at St Paul’s before starting a tour around some of the UK’s other beautiful cathedrals: Ely, Brecon, Wells, Edinburgh and Coventry.

As fun and exciting as it was to install the mural, take pictures of it and help our client host a celebratory event for the winners of the competition, the message behind it is a serious one and incredibly important.

The mural represents all the charitable work that churches do in their local communities beyond their religious duties – and unfortunately, most of this work goes unnoticed.

Now we don’t just mean Bring and Buy sales and coffee mornings, although those activities are wonderful for any community. We’re talking about life-changing, hard-hitting services that churches provide which, if they didn’t, would cost the government an immense about of money to pick up.

Food banks, homeless shelters, services for the elderly, mother and baby support groups, rehabilitation services for sufferers of addiction, the list goes on and on. Perhaps most importantly, your local church will always be somewhere to go if you just need to talk to someone about your problems.

And, amazingly, they do all this free of charge.

As the insurer of most of the churches in the UK, the mural and the competition that created it is part of Ecclesiastical’s way of giving back to their customers and engaging with them in a way that most other insurers never could. It was a fantastic opportunity for a creative community-led campaign.

I speak on behalf of the rest of the Ecclesiastical team here at Speed, when I say that working on the Great Community Mural, from the initial brainstorming of the idea right through to seeing it in the flesh, has been an absolute delight.

My advice to any PR person who is presented with the opportunity to work on a church-based project would be do it, do it, do it!