Major funding boost for ambitious plans

St James Church in Shilbottle.
St James Church in Shilbottle.

An £80,000 grant has been secured for an ambitious plan to repair and transform a village church.

And a Friends scheme has been launched by St James Church, Shilbottle, to help raise further funds for its Open Church Project.

The five-figure sum from the Heritage Lottery Fund will go towards repairing the church tower and developing the venue’s interior to make it better suited to today’s needs. The aim is to start in early 2017.

The inside of the building has remained largely unchanged since the present church was completed in the 1880s.

The planned changes would offer a bigger welcome area, a more flexible platform from which to lead worship and music, better scope for community use and some functional improvements such as the inclusion of a kitchen and a toilet.

Rev Martin Gilham, Priest in Charge, said: “We are thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting our plans, to safeguard our heritage, carry out essential repair work and adapt the church so that it can be more easily used and enjoyed by the community for a range of activities.”

But another £80,000 needs to be raised through other grants, gifts, donations and events and a Friends scheme has been launched to support this. Call 01665 575846 for more details.