Volunteer Neil Skelton recognised in the 2016 New Year’s Honours

Neil Skelton, a volunteer at The Churches Conservation Trust's St Giles’ Church in Imber, the ‘ghost village’ on Salisbury Plain, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List as a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the preservation and conservation of the church.

Since 1943 the village of Imber has been deserted, part of the large tract of land on Salisbury Plain permanently used for military training by the MOD. Alongside abandoned houses stands the medieval St Giles’ Church which is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust.

Neil Skelton, a former employee of The Churches Conservation Trust, leads a team of volunteers who open the church for visitors on the specified weeks a year that the MOD gives permission for public access. Skelton organises a calendar of events –  including  the August bank holiday when visitors are taken to the church by Sir Peter Hendy’s 1962 Routemaster – attracting over 12,000 visitors a year. Donations from visitors, alongside the revenue from the sale of Imber souvenirs (such as local honey) contribute to valuable funds which help to maintain the church.

Colin Shearer, Director of the West Region at The Churches Conservation Trust added:

"We are delighted at this recognition for Neil’s achievement, with his volunteer team, in ensuring that this fascinating CCT church and the former Imber community can be appreciated and enjoyed by so many people, with the  full support of the Ministry of Defence."

Neil has also recently been recognised by The Churches Conservation Trust as their West Volunteer of the Year and will be honoured at their upcoming award ceremony in London.

St Giles’ Church is open to visitors on select days throughout the year, details can be found here or http://www.imberchurch.org.uk  If you would like to register your interest in volunteering at St Giles’ Church please contact Ed McGregor on [email protected]