It's Fairtrade gold, it's a cockerel and it's a beauty. Chichester Cathedral in Chichester, England has erected a Fairtrade gold weathervane at the top of its 279 ft. spire.
The rooster, gilded in Fairtrade and Fairmined gold from Peru, is 40 years old and has been given a new shining coat of gold leaf.
Installing it was no easy feat. The team of steeplejacks climbed 205 steps and then a 146 ft. ladder to install the 3 foot bird.
The gold was supplied by CRED, an ethical jeweller and sourced from the Sotrami mine in Peru. It then was sent to Italy to be turned into gold leaf. Gold leaf is unbelievably delicate and difficult to work with: it is 8 microns thick (a micron is 1/1000 of a millimetre).
Weathervanes are the oldest method of weather prediction, dating back to 3500 BC. Their design is the essence of simplicity and practicality. They must be perfectly balanced on a rotating axis and located on the highest point, where the wind can blow freely. As they spin, the end with the least surface area turns into the wind, and thus indicates the wind direction.
Why the cockerel (rooster)? Apparently in Rome it was "declared that every church in Christendom must be adorned by a cockerel, a symbol to remind Christians of Peter’s betrayal of Christ: "I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me." (Luke 22:34)." Plus roosters are a common farm animal and easily recognized.
The Dean of Chichester, explains why the project is so important:
Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold provides a lifeline for thousands of impoverished and exploited miners in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. If every jeweller, and indeed every customer, were to insist on only gold sourced in this way then thousands of small scale miners, and their communities, would be guaranteed a better future. The cost of this project has been borne by a private donor to whom we are very grateful, but the wider ambitions of Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold are priceless.
The gold was supplied by CRED, a Chichester based jeweller and to their credit (!), the first ethical jewellers in the UK and Europe to sell certified FairTrade gold and ethically sourced stones.