December 19, 2016
• Ride + Stride cyclists and walkers raised nearly £50,000
• Grants will help churches protect historic artefacts and improve visitor facilities
Twenty churches have received an early Christmas present from the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust (GHCT). Grants totalling more than £67,000 have been awarded this month to help keep church buildings in use by their communities and to improve facilities for visitors and congregations.
Cyclists and walkers taking part in September’s GHCT Ride + Stride event raised nearly £48,500, the highest total since the event began.
GHCT’s grants committee met in December and projects receiving help with funding include:
• £10,000 for St James, Dursley, for urgent repairs to the tower
• £5000 to St James, Lockleaze for a cabin to support youth work in a deprived area of Bristol
• £4000 to St Nicholas, Oddington to help restore 14th century wall paintings damaged after a theft at the church
• £2500 to Holy Trinity, Westbury-on-Trym to improve accessibility for those who can’t manage steps
GHCT Chairman Nick Talbot Rice said: “Gloucestershire’s churches are rich in heritage and vital assets to the people that use them, but the cost of maintaining them can often be a burden on communities. We’re delighted that thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we can help so many churches in need.”
GHCT helps churches of any Christian denomination in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and North Bristol. The main fundraising event each year is Ride & Stride, a sponsored walk, ride or cycle on the second Saturday in September. Half the money raised goes to participant’s churches, the rest to GHCT.
St James, Dursley
The fine tower of St James’ church is a defining feature in Dursley’s skyline, with a coronet modelled on that of Gloucester Cathedral. The tower’s eroded pinnacles need urgent repair and GHCT has contributed £10,000 to the £60,000 project. “The grant will help immensely,” said Austin Meares, Chairman of the Fabric Committee. “Once the repairs are completed we can devote much more of our time and energy back to where it matters most – the people in our community.”
St James, Lockleaze (main photo)
Lockleaze is one of the poorest and most deprived wards in Bristol, and one of the 10% most deprived nationally. St James’ church building had fallen into disuse, but under the leadership of Revd Dave Jeal, a one-time convicted football hooligan who has turned his life around, a new congregation has started worshipping here.
A vibrant youth work programme at the church includes a football team and practical skills teaching but more space is needed. GHCT is contributing £5000 to a project to put a cabin behind the church. This will create a space for Sunday school as well as maths and science teaching, counselling and social interaction during the week. “We’re really packed into a small, noisy space at the moment,” said Revd Jeal. “The cabin will create space for the children to have fun, and allow us to grow and help more people in our community.”
St Nicholas, Oddington
Set in woodland near Stow on the Wold, this church is most famous for its magnificent mediaeval ‘Doom’ wall painting, which brings visitors from all over the world.
In February, thieves removed the copper covering from St Nicholas’ roof. Rain poured in, damaging the paintings. “The paintings need a year to dry out, and the roof must be repaired before work starts,” said Fabric Officer Margaret Lewis. “We’re delighted to have GHCT’s contribution to this expensive work which will ensure future visitors enjoy the very special paintings at St Nicholas’ church.”
Holy Trinity, Westbury-on-Trym
Until now, visitors to Holy Trinity unable to manage steps have had to arrange entry to church by a side door using temporary ramps. Improving accessibility by installing a lift is the third part of a massive project of repairs and improvements costing over £300,000. “We’ve been fundraising for five years and we’re grateful for GHCT’s help in making the church more welcoming for anyone with reduced mobility,” said PCC Treasurer Gill Carter. “We hope the work will be finished in time for a special Epiphany service of dedication by Bishop of Bristol Mike Hill.”
Dursley Methodist Church
A mould problem and deteriorated windows have put pressure on the Dursley Methodist Church’s reserves, so GHCT has granted £2000 towards remedial work.
“We try to be a welcoming, supportive and inclusive group, following the Methodist tradition of social care for those who need it in the community,” said Treasurer Meriel Hellen. “The redecoration has just been completed and 45 elderly people have just enjoyed a Christmas lunch in a clean, bright environment. We are planning to get the window repairs done in the spring.”