St Johns Church volunteers celebrate first anniversary

Supporters of St John's Church in Kates Hill are celebrating after a rewarding 12 months.

It has been a year since St John's Church Preservation Group signed the lease and started to restore the building, which has been closed to the public since November 2002. But thanks to the group's dedication, the Kates Hill church is now open to the public seven days a week.

The group has spent around £24,000 on the building including locks, insurance, fumigation, guttering, fire safety, electrical checks, emergency roof repairs and two new roofs.

It also coughed up the cash for an up-to-date condition report, which has set out work priorities and will assist with future funding bids. Volunteers also maintain the two-and-a-half acre graveyard, and are in the process of setting up a nature reserve on adjoining land. Deb Brownlee, group chairman, said:

"One of the things we were most determined to do was to open the building up, and never let it be closed again. But we needed to stabilise the building urgently, there was water ingress causing great damage, years of pigeon waste, overflowing gutters and boarding up that was letting weather in.

"Now the building is almost completely waterproof, there is daylight streaming through the windows, the building has been deep cleaned and is drying out well."

However there is still work to be done and anniversary 'presents' in the form of donations would be appreciated by the group, to assist with the second year of insurance, which will cost £9,286.

The group has created a 'birthday box', which was unveiled in the church this afternoon and will remain there for 30 days, during which time they also hope to find 177 people willing to set up regular standing orders. Deb added:

"We really need a good supply of funds to be able to carry on work at this pace, and regular giving means we can rely on an income and plan accordingly.

"Fortunately we had saved up opening funds to see us through the emergency works, but now we need to raise more."

Donations can be given at the church, which is open from 10am to 4pm each day. Cheques can also be sent by post to St John's Church Preservation Group, The Old School House, St John's Road, Kates Hill, Dudley, DY2 7JT.

For more information contact the group by email or call 07871195042.

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