How ‘good’ can come out of a ‘bad’ situation

Author: Michael Gurney

Published on: 8 March 2019

The lovely church of St Mary’s, Northrepps in North Norfolk had lead stolen from the chancel and vestry roof in 2017.

Sadly, the CCTV that was already on order had not yet been installed and so the insurers would only contribute £7,500 to the £27,000 bill.

Lesson One – always get CCTV installed as it deters burglars! Insurers are also more likely to cover the cost.

The very small congregation was faced with a very large bill and no structural funds in the reserves to pay for it, having just paid to repair the nave windows.

We approached Geoff Freeman, then one of the Diocesan Parish Funding Support Officers, who gave us invaluable advice about potential sources of funding and critically suggested we appeal to everyone in the village to help. Our then vicar David Roper excelled in leading the fund-raising effort.

Lesson Two – you are not on your own – the Diocesan Parish Funding Support Officers are there to help you.

The Norfolk Churches Trust, The Paul Basham Charitable Trust and the Geoffrey Watling Charity kindly gave us invaluable support but we were still £13,000 short.

Lesson Three – there are a number of potential sources of grants depending upon your need and the project. The Diocese can help you identify these and do use the online Diocesan Grant Finder – but grants will never cover everything. You need first to make the effort to raise funds locally.

With Geoff’s assistance we drew up a small leaflet that we put through every door in the village asking people to help.

The response has been extraordinary. Not only did people from across the village donate over £5,000 but there was a highly successful open gardens weekend in 2018 which raised £6,000; and villagers, from every denomination and none organised a wide variety of events from coffee mornings to afternoon teas.

A weekend resident even brought his band ‘Top Banana’ up from St Albans to play in the village hall to raise funds for the roof! We raised the balance needed.

Lesson Four – just because people do not come regularly to church it does not mean they do not love and respect their church.

David Lemon, our architect, who now works for Spire went over and beyond to get quotes and then, when the money was raised, ensured the work was done properly.

Lesson Five – do ask Spire to quote to manage the work.

Out of a terrible act of theft the village has come together as never before. Not only is the roof now mended but we have a closer community.

The author...

Michael Gurney

Diocesan Board of Finance

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