FACED with having to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair its church and save it from closure most villages would have given up long ago.
In Charmouth it is a very different story and the huge disappointment of having had its application for funding turned down by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has made supporters of the church more determined than ever to succeed.
Early last year St Andrew’s Church in Charmouth was awarded a substantial grant of £370,000 by the Erskine Muton Trust, an organisation which makes grants available for Anglican church buildings in Dorset.
However, the very poor state of the building means that significantly more money is required to complete the project that has been planned and it had been hoped that this would come from lottery funds. But after considering three separate applications over the last two years, the HLF has decided to reject the bid.
The campaign to save the church in Charmouth has been led by the Reverend Stephen Skinner, team rector of the Golden Cap parishes, and a group of volunteers known as the Changing Spaces Team.
Their ambitious ideas are not just to secure the fabric of the building as a place of worship but to provide a space for the whole community and already the church is host to regular concerts, exhibitions, Free eXchange cafés and a range of social events.
The repairs planned include weatherproofing the entire building, redecorating the interior, removing the pews, new underfloor heating, relaying the stone floor and providing reconfigurable seating and an upgraded kitchen area. It is also hoped to re-landscape the churchyard and establish a heritage trail.
Without lottery support some items may have to be deferred but the funds from Erskine Muton are still available and a revised plan will be presented to the Trust. In addition an intensive search for alternative sources of funding is underway.
There remains a keen determination by everyone involved that the project is given renewed impetus so that the ambition for St Andrew’s to have an even more important role in the Charmouth community, with its future secure for many years to come, can become a reality.
If any readers are inspired to offer their support to the Changing Spaces Team, either financially or as volunteers, they are invited to contact Reverend Stephen Skinner on 01297 443763 or the Changing Spaces Team, c/o St Andrew’s Church, The Street, Charmouth DT6 6PN.