From vision to reality

Author: Glyn Purland

Published on: 7 June 2015

The need to provide additional facilities to our beautiful Grade 2* listed parish church has been recognised for many years.

In 2009 four remarkable events encouraged the PCC to move forward with a contemporary design that would not only meet our urgent needs but also provide a building that would complement our ancient church, add to the heritage of Holt and provide new opportunities to reach out into the community.

These events were interpreted as God’s timing and blessing for the project: the availability of land adjacent to the churchyard, a large legacy, the offer of time from our church architect and a willingness to work with us from consultative external bodies.

The extension provides a new entrance/link/lobby through the old south porch, sacristy with en suite W.C., parish office, public toilets, multi-purpose meeting space, servery, boiler room and courtyard garden. It successfully combines the use of modern materials such as zinc, aluminium and glass with traditional local flint, brick, stone and wood.

And so, the PCC stepped out in faith to establish a design team and simple project management structure. The PCC, which meets bi-monthly, steered all aspects of the scheme with the Standing Committee acting as its day to day project group.

One of the Churchwardens acted as project co-ordinator and a fundraising group was established reporting directly to the PCC. The design team including architect, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers and quantity surveyor was carefully assembled to ensure collaborative working as well as relevant experience and technical competence.

Following a comprehensive tendering and subsequent cost reduction exercise, building work began in May 2012 and was completed in April 2013, later than planned due primarily to inclement weather! Working relations with the contractor during the construction period were excellent with strong personal bonds formed supplementing the formal monthly site meetings. The building was dedicated and officially opened by Bishop Graham on 21st April 2013 and is a tribute to the commitment and craftsmanship of those who have worked on it.

All costs associated with the building have been met following an intensive fundraising period which included the sale of a property, a large legacy, a number of external grants,donations from the congregation and local individuals and an 18-month community fundraising programme of highly enjoyable events involving people from the congregation and local community.

Reflecting two years on from the opening of the building, it is possible to see how the PCC’s original objectives are being achieved in three main ways:

  • facilities for our clergy, administrator, choir and congregation are much improved;
  • new activities directly supporting the life of the church are growing, prompted by the space provided by the building extension; and
  • most importantly, new opportunities to reach out into the local community are being made possible.

Here are some examples: “Coffee Morning Monday” in the Meeting Room provides a great social way to start each week and is increasingly popular; “The Poppy Centre”, a joint venture between church and community provides a weekly drop in café and home visiting service for those living with dementia and their carers; a monthly café style “Tea Service” combines a short service of the word with afternoon tea, serving those who find difficulty in coping with a Sunday morning service; reception facilities for baptisms, funerals and other events give opportunities to support those on the fringe of church life.

Local community groups such as the Holt Book Club enjoy the quiet atmosphere of the Meeting Room and links with the local primary school have grown significantly as the children now come to church regularly to work in the light and friendly atmosphere of the new accommodation.

The church is a regular concert venue throughout the year and especially during the Annual Summer Holt Festival. The new building adds dramatically to the facilities offered for performers and audiences, helping us to welcome large numbers of people to St Andrew’s who may not otherwise come to church.

We give thanks to God for His vision for the building, His provision that made it possible and His exhortation to us, to use it to His glory!

The author...

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Glyn Purland

Churchwarden, Holt (Parish)

8 Elsden Close
NR25 6JW

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