£26,000 needed to save church of St Mary

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A 600-year-old church is to get a new lease of life thanks to a grant of £129,000, but your help is needed to plug the final funding gap.

St Mary’s Church in East Barkwith was closed in 2009 when surveyors found the bell tower’s parapet was a serious health and safety risk and could plummet to the ground at any point.

But the future of the building has now been secured thanks to a grant from English Heritage’s Lottery Fund.

The £129,000 will be used to restore the church tower, fix leaks in the building’s roof and improve the guttering and drainage system, which is redundant and has led to further leaks causing interior plaster to crack and peel.

However, the church committee still needs to raise around £26,000 in order to complete the work.

Jane Perkins, secretary of the church committee, who applied to English Heritage last June, said: “When we had our quinquennial inspection the architect went into the tower and I think he just leant against the parapet and it just went. He was lucky he did not fall.

“He said on safety grounds we had to close the church immediately and cordon off the grounds because the stonework could fall at any time.”

English Heritage have given the church 80 per cent of the money needed to fully restore St Mary’s to its former glory, but the committee still need the community’s help to raise the rest of the funds.

A number of fundraising events are already planned for this year ahead of work starting in 2012.

There will be an open weekend at the church on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 followed by a bygones exhibition on May 14-15.

There are also plans to hold a ‘Cash in the Attic’ style event where items are donated for auction and a Picnic in the Paddock live music event in August.

Mrs Perkins added: “Hopefully people from the village will come and give us ideas and come up with new ones to contribute.

“People will have had weddings, Christenings or loved ones buried here, which we hope will make a donation.

“It’s bad times, people are short of money, but it has survived so long and it was built by people in the village and it has been maintained by people in the village and it’s kind of our responsibility because it is our history and heritage.

“If we do not care and just let it fall into ruins I think that is a bad reflection on the present community.”

She added: “I have every faith we can do it.

“People do support us, it is a cared-for church, but definitely in need of TLC.”

Anyone who can help with the fundraising, or has an idea for the church committee, can contact.......