ST Michael’s Parish Church in Lyme Regis is turning to the local community to help raise more than £121,000 for essential repairs to its bell tower.
The tower is suffering from water ingress and architects have given an estimated cost of £121,400 for the repairs, but this may increase when the render is removed to reveal the full extent of any damage caused.
The tower’s clock is also currently not working and will not be repaired until the tower is refurbished.
The church congregation and Parochial Church Council (PCC) have been holding events to raise funds, including the ‘Tower Trundle’ sponsored walk last year which raised £3,300, and regular coffee mornings and lunches.
The former Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, chose St Michael’s Parish Church as her charity of the year for 2018/19 and raised £4,400 towards the project. Antonio’s Trattoria, the popular Italian restaurant opposite the church, also raised £1,400 last year by hosting a special fundraising dinner.
The PCC has also submitted two grant applications but with little success, and has struggled to find the time and manpower needed for fundraising as St Michael’s currently does not have a vicar or churchwarden.
Now the church is appealing for help from the local community to really get its fundraising efforts off the ground.
Dawn Baker, treasurer of the PCC, said: “It’s a huge task to raise this sort of money. It’s the community’s church so we want them to know what we’re doing and what we need, and we would be most grateful to anyone who can help with fundraising.”
As well as weekly services on Sundays and Wednesdays, the church is well-used by the local community for weddings, christenings and funerals, and town events such as Remembrance Sunday and the annual Civic Service.
St Michael’s Primary School also regularly uses the church and it often hosts concerts showing off its impressive Skrabl organ, which was installed after a fundraising campaign well-supported by the town raised £375,000.
Heidi Merrett, lay-chairman of the PCC, said: “St Michael’s is very well used by the community and also is also visited by many tourists, especially because of its connections with Mary Anning and Thomas Coram.
“There has been a church on this site for 1,000 years and the tower is the oldest part of the existing church, so it would be sad to think we can’t look after it properly in this day and age.
“The church is there for people to take comfort in and help them through crisis. It’s open everyday but we have to keep it safe, we’d hate to see it closed.”
Anyone who is interested in helping the fundraising campaign or has any ideas for events should contact Heidi on 07706 058 676 or Dawn on 01297 443478.