Shouting from the church rooftop about vital project

A £207,000 heritage appeal to cover major roof work and other repairs at a Grade I listed 13th-century church in the heart of a Ribble Valley village was launched earlier this year.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 27th June 2017, 11:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:47 am
St Wilfrid's Church, Ribchester
St Wilfrid's Church, Ribchester

And last week, a team from the parish church of St Wilfrid in Ribchester were flying the flag in the village for their Raise the Roof appeal, raising a model roof and mock tower high during their Field Day parade to publicise the church’s campaign

Church member Alan Tomlinson, who is a member of a small action group formed to spearhead the appeal, says a year ago architects were asked to carry out a survey of the St Wilfrid’s Church building, drawing up “a great big list” after damage and decay caused by damp and water ingress.

He says all the stone slates need to come off the roof of the nave, which then needs to be re-slated, either by replacing or re-using them.

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Also, once the slates are taken off, they will be able to see what other work is required underneath, for which, he says, there is a contingency plan to cover any extra expenses which may be incurred.

Associated with the roof are all the lead gutters, flashings and downspouts which need replacing or renovating.

St Wilfrid’s two famous dormer windows also need completely replacing.

“And then there is some internal plaster work that has gone damp and crumbled away and because it is a Grade I listed building, this has to be special plaster to match what is already there,” says Alan.

“So there is a lot of work, and when it is all finished it won’t look much different, but all of it is very necessary work.”

At the same time, a new boiler will be fitted inside the building, providing a more efficient and controllable source of heat, providing further damage limitation.

All the work will have to be carried out by heritage specialist contractors and follows on from St Wilfrid’s Faith and Heritage Appeal 12 years ago, which also involved repairs to the roof, but a different part of it.

Already, the church has managed to secure funding from several charitable trusts and foundations totalling nearly £167,000 and including a grant of £86,000 from the Government’s “Roof Repair Fund” to help churches repair roofs and £5,500 from The Headley Trust.

But the shortfall, which must be raised by the congregation, is in the region of £40,000.

They must also carry out the work as soon as possible, as Alan says they need to use the “Roof Repair Fund” grant before April 2018, or face losing it.

He adds: “So the clock has already started ticking and it is important we get on with it and get the work done this summer if we can. That’s the intention.”

Alan says while they are aware there is a lot of other fund-raising going on in Ribchester, they are hoping the wider community will join them to raise the funds for the necessary repairs which will also protect the church for years to come as well as interior fittings and several items of historic interest.

It is aimed to make all the fund-raising fun and events include an auction of promises; five kilometre run and a summer fete with lots of smaller activities such as throwing teddies with parachutes off the church tower.

They are asking people to fill Smartie tubes with coins and the flagship event will be a masked ball in October.

The church is also appealing for people and organisations to donate and there is a page set up at through which people may donate and find further information about the appeal.