St Mary’s hails cash lifeline for church

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A local church has taken a major step to securing its future after it was awarded a much-needed cash injection.

St Mary the Blessed Virgin in Gomersal has won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to repair its roof and tower.

The 150-year-old church and community hub will eventually receive £203,000 of Lottery money for the second phase of an ongoing restoration project.

As much as £18,000 will also be spent on a unique local history project involving children from nearby St Mary’s Primary School.

The news has delighted vicar, the Rev Karen Nicholls.

“We’re really pleased - the tower is unsafe and there is 150 years of corrosion to the roof. We had a major repair in 2014 on part of the roof and dry rot, and this is the second phase.”

The Spen Lane church is a popular venue for local groups and activities, currently hosting a senior citizen’s lunch club, a parent and toddler group, and regular ceilidhs and dances.

“It’s important that the church works closely with people in the area and the wider town, and links to their different interests. We’d never have been able to get the money together without the grant - and we still need another £100,000 for the third phase. It’s absolutely wonderful news.”

If the cash to fund the work had not been secured, the church would have eventually been declared unsafe to use and the building threatened with closure.

Members of the parish and congregation now hope to inspire a new generation to become involved in church life through the educational project, called ‘Gomersal - A Window into the Past.’ Schoolchildren will collect information about people who have lived in the area since St Mary’s was built and create a record which can be used as a community resource.

“It will be well worth it for the wider community,” added Rev Nicholls.