CELEBRATIONS were on the cards this week after it was announced that a grant had been awarded to a much loved and historic church that needs major repair work.
An English Heritage Lottery Grant of £78,000 has been given to St Nicholas’s Church in Sabden, heralding the beginning of the restoration work. But the battle to save the church still has a long way to go, a church warden warned this week.
Mr Colin Hartley said: “This is excellent news about the grant and it means that we can now start working with structural engineers and architects on how to go about the repair work.
“This money will come to us in stages and this is stage one of the grant. The plans will need to be in place by the end of March next year for approval from English Heritage so that we can move forward to the second stage. The second application for more cash has already been made but these things take at least three months.’’
The church was closed last year when it was revealed that major repair works totalling £133,000 were desperately needed. An urgently called public meeting received an overwhelming response from Sabden people of all ages and denominations who felt strongly that the landmark church should be saved and not left to rot.
They vowed to start a fund raising campaign and that has been continuing in earnest since last September.
Mr Hartley paid tribute to the community for rallying to help, saying: “I would like to thank everyone who has helped and I hope they will continue to do so as we still need to raise money. We will also be applying for other grants and I am confident we will reach the amount we need.’’
The church faces repairs for a collapsed ceiling, repairs to the steeple and dry rot in the tower. It houses a rare Laycock organ valued at around £50,000 and this also needs to be stripped down and repaired.
With a congregation of only 50, the support shown for the 170-year-old church, which is also a Grade II listed building, has been extraordinary. It is seen as the focal point for the village and as the church itself does not have a pot of money to fund the repairs the community effort to save it has been vital to secure the future of St Nicholas’s.