Volunteers' Week - Seeds, shingles and success
Without volunteers, CCT would not be able to care for its churches, raise the funds it requires, develop vital links to local communities, and, under usual circumstances, welcome visitors into our churches.
It's Volunteers Week and we’d like to take the time to say thank you to all the amazing people who voluntarily give their time to help us look after historic churches. Due to the current Covid-19 crisis, our churches are all closed. However, that does not mean that the efforts of volunteers and Friends groups should go unrecognised. Throughout the week, we will be sharing stories of volunteer-led projects, activities and care at CCT churches. Today we are sharing the stories of some creative, dedicated and passionate volunteers from Kent, Hertfordshire and Wiltshire.
Seeds of Success
St Peter’s Church in Preston Park, East Sussex is an 800-year-old church found on the beautiful landscaped park of Preston Manor. Before the COVID-19 crisis The Friends of St Peter’s were preparing for their annual spring sale, due to take place on the 30th of May. A highlight of this sale is the seedlings and many seeds, including tomatoes, had been sown earlier in the year in readiness for the sale.
However, when fate intervened and the event was cancelled the Friend’s of St Peter’s got creative. Following government guidance on social distancing, they sold the young tomato plants from their front garden to passing walkers, raising over £500 for CCT while helping their neighbours fill their vegetable beds during lockdown.
Outstanding commitment at Oxhey Chapel
Bob Wyard has cared for Oxhey Chapel in Hertfordshire for nearly 20 years. His passion for and commitment to the building has been plain for all to see over these past two decades. Bob is a fount of knowledge about the history of the chapel, a 17th-century building now surrounded by 1940’s housing, and has always been generous in sharing this knowledge with others. This February Bob’s longstanding commitment to the chapel was recognised at CCT’s Volunteer and Community Day, winning the Volunteer of the Year: South East award.
Oxhey Chapel is only accessibly by pre-arranged appointments, which before the current situation were facilitated by Bob - who would bring the stories of the chapel’s past to life with his engaging and enthusiastic manner with visitors. Earlier this year, Bob also organised an upgrade to the forecourt, beautifying the area by replanting plant beds and providing gravel at his own expense. While the chapel is currently closed, like all of CCT’s buildings, the outside of the chapel is now even more enjoyable thanks to Bob’s outstanding efforts.
Over in Wiltshire the volunteer team at All Saints’ Church in Idmiston led by Barbara Townsend, had a busy 2019 and early 2020. All Saints’ is an imposing gothic church, remarkable for its collection of medieval carvings and fearsome gargoyles. In April 2019 the volunteer team promoted the Top 3 conservation priorities at All Saints’ via a local parish newsletter, effectively communicating the need for repairs to the wooden shingled tower, rainwater goods and the stained glass, as well as for a roof timber survey.
The volunteer team raised almost £5000 through independent donations from local residents and by running two art and history exhibitions in July and September, on top of their usual church services. Thanks to their successful fundraising, this February the works to repair the roof shingles were carried out successfully using a specialist roof access team.
Thank you to all our volunteers and all the Friends groups across England who help support CCT in caring for historic churches. If you would like to support CCT during these uncertain times, please consider donating at visitchurches.org.uk/donate.