By Fiona Power
It's two days before Christmas and Alan Steele is hard at work preparing the floral arrangements for St Patrick's Cathedral. It's a task he has undertaken for 25 years, not only at Christmas, but every week.
"If there's a flower in the cathedral, I put it there," he laughs.
"Fr Hoctor said: 'It's been such a success, would you come and do it again?'" Alan recalls. Later that year Alan began his remarkable service, sharing his skills and evidently gaining great satisfaction from the joy he brings to visitors to the cathedral.
"Everybody loves flowers, don't you think?" he smiles.
Alan now comes to St Patrick's cathedral every Thursday and Friday, making arrangements for the week, which can include weddings and liturgical celebrations. He has been working at the cathedral for four days this week, preparing magnificent displays for Christmas.
Michelle Ehlers, Office and House Manager at St Patrick's Cathedral, says Alan's work and talents are greatly appreciated.
"No one can do flowers like Alan can," she says. "He's irreplaceable!"
Alan, who is in his early eighties, recently had major surgery but is making an excellent recovery.
"I told the doctor, 'I have to get back to do the flowers!'" he says.
"My abiding passion is the Catholic Church. It's all for God and the Catholic Church; they are important to me."