Villagers raise thousands to save church

L to R: Rev David Post, Mary Jordon church reader, Ann Stamp, Bishop of Lincoln, Jane Perkins, Richard Stamp, Rev Charles Patrick of Middle Rasen, and Quin Hough church reader
L to R: Rev David Post, Mary Jordon church reader, Ann Stamp, Bishop of Lincoln, Jane Perkins, Richard Stamp, Rev Charles Patrick of Middle Rasen, and Quin Hough church reader

An historic village church has been reopened by the Bishop of Lincoln after residents raised an incredible £83,000 to save it from closure.

St Mary’s Church in East Barkwith closed for three months 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.

A £129,000 English Heritage Lottery Fund grant was secured to restore the church tower, fix roof leaks and improve guttering and drainage.

But this sum was not enough and so villagers pulled out all the stops to raise an additional £83,000 to save their much-loved church.

In August last year, once all the money had been raised, the church closed its doors once again for the year-long restoration.

It reopened in July this year and has now been officially reopened and rededicated by the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson, the Bishop of Lincoln.

Secretary of St Mary’s Church committee, Jane Perkins said: “If you put your heart into it, you can do it.

“People are just so thrilled about it.

“Over 80 percent of the village contributed.

“Not many go to church but they didn’t want to lose it.

“It’s a real success story.”

The committee set out to raise £20,000 from village donations, £3,000 from events and £15,000 from other charitable grants.

It actually raised £29,389 from village donations, £7,254 from events and £46,500 from other charitable grants. A total of 17 charities contributed after seeing villagers’ dedication.

Leaflets about the history of the church and desperate need for donations were posted to every house in the village.

And according to Jane, there was “no end” of fundraising with events such as quizzes, auctions and music events.

The church is now fundraising to get a new heating system and a toilet installed.