St Swithun's Church PCC thanks all National Lottery Players for their help

Making our Heritage Live. 

In late 2017 St Swithun’s Church, Long Bennington, Parochial Church Council (PCC) embarked on a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sponsored Project to make urgent repairs to the Church.  These sought to repair the Chancel Roof’s Wooden Beams, and to totally recover the area with a new lead canopy; and to undertake essential building and drainage works with the aim of stabilizing movement in the Church’s North Aisle and East Chancel walls.

Following a Development Phase, funded by the HLF (circa £20,000), early in 2018, the repair work was tendered and a Repair Phase Grant of £142,800 was awarded; this was supported by £54,740 provided by the PCC and 3 other grant providers (the Marshall Trust (£10,000) the Lincolnshire Churches Trust (£4,000) and the Garfield Weston Foundation (£5,000).  This total of £197,540 included a sum of money, around £18,000, towards the delivery of the associated HLF Project Activity Plan, developed to help the PCC engage better with the local community.

The first phase of the project commenced in March 2019 with the work to repair the Chancel Roof Beams.  Unfortunately, once the old lead canopy was removed from the Chancel, the state of one of the main Cross Beams and most of the Side Plates was found to be worse than had been anticipated, due to an infestation of Death Watch Beetle.  The PCC was thus faced with an addition repair bill for the Chancel Roof of £43,686; At the same time the Contractor also identified circa £5,000 of additional repairs required to the North Aisle and East Chancel walls.  This took the total for Additional Repairs cost to just over £48,000 which was met by: use of the HLF Project Contingency (circa £15,000), donations from villagers (circa £5,000), release of some PCC Trust Funds (circa £22,000) and 2 Grant Awards – InvestSK (£4,000) and The Duchy of Lancaster (£2,500).  

On-site work commenced on 1 March 2019 and the project was completed on 28 September 2019, 2 weeks ahead of the Revised Project Schedule.

In support of their Grant Award the HLF required an Activity (Pay-Back) Plan and this became central to the PCC’s crusade to expand the use of the Church and develop its ministry.  The key elements of the plan were:

-  Arranging for the Church to be open to the public for roughly 250 days per year, Easter through to Remembrance Sunday.  In support of this, to improve accessibility the old, worn, Church Path was recently replaced; whilst a ramp is available to aid access to the building by wheel-chair users.

-  Redevelopment of the Church Web site, and use of modern means of communication to liaise with the younger members of the local community.

-  Development of a programme of concerts, talks and other activities which will take place in the Church.  This includes participation in Heritage Lincolnshire Open Days and an Annual Flower Festival.

-  Running of regular weekly Coffee Mornings and a monthly ‘Tea-n-Chat’ afternoon focused on all ages, and particularly those who live at home alone.

-  Development of a number of Church led activities from Home Groups to a Walking Group.

In addition:

-  A Church Tour with supporting material has been created.

-  Five Leaflets of walks from the Church have been produced.

-  The Church held a large Armistice Exhibition in autumn 2018 (which featured on the Lincoln Diocese Web Site), and which drew favourable reviews in the local press.

-  A Village History Trail, with associated activities for children, was launched at the end of September 2019 (see separate article). 

Hopefully, the Church Repairs and the associated Activity Plan will benefit all sections of the community in some way or other, and will create a lasting legacy for both religious worship and community activities.  However, the Project would never have got off the ground without the support of the HLF, and by association all who play the National Lottery, to whom the PCC wish to extend a big ‘thank you’. 

In support of this ‘thank you’ an event, which includes the rededication of the Church, was  held in the St Swithun’s Church on the afternoon of Sunday 24 November, in the presence of Bishop Nicholas.


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