The restoration project

HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) money has been obtained for restoration of parts of the church building.

The report below appeared in the May 2017 issue of the church magazine – please also watch the News/Blog page and the church magazine for the latest news on this project.

Status of the restoration project – May 2017

or CUP HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY?

By Jon Harcourt

When I was at school all those years ago, and we had to write a composition, I always remember the teacher telling us that a good headline might possibly grab the reader more quickly than a boring one. So back to the word ‘composition’. In today’s terminology that is often transposed to an ‘essay’ or a ‘project’ or whatever your trendy teacher picks up in the staff room during a tea break.

Why this start for an article that has nothing to do with half full or half empty?

Some two years ago the PCC at St Edmunds applied to be considered for a grant to carry out necessary works to our mainly 18th century Grade 2* listed building. The Heritage Lottery Fund accepted us.

Hooray! Now, when can we start? Oh dear, fancy asking that.  Our   excited congregation (like me) thought the start would be “soon”. But then the to-ing and fro-ing began. The original thoughts and guestimates were that the cost would be around £145K (that’s thousand in old money) plus VAT. Hlf – OK to that. Very easy. But when the     results from the quantity surveyors came back we found that another £45,000 would be needed. This caused some consternation, and we had to go back to HLF with a bigger begging bowl and do an Oliver Twist to them – “Please, can we have some more?”

The local office could not say yes – it has to go to the big(ger) chiefs to look on us as being a deserving cause.

Unfortunately we missed the timed committee meeting for approval, so we wait in eager anticipation. Here comes my wonderful knowledge on building materials – bricks of 1724 (and some of ours may be earlier) need lime mortar, which according to the experts cannot be used after September because of the usual weather conditions. Drat! So we now must put our restoration back until the early part of 2018. Looking half empty, but we are positive and say half full.

So, what else is happening? Hopefully later this 2017 year the work on our new state of the art toilets will begin. I dare not say half empty or half full when referring to toilets- just say positive!

We are also looking at removing some rows of pews from the back of church to make a welcome area with chairs and tables. The PCC agreed to this, but the usual faculties and permissions must be obtained; so, half full. Also at long last a small but beautifully formed kitchenette (shades of the terminology from the 1950s) in the north side aisle is planned. At the moment our kitchen is two electric kettles – shame you might say, but that doesn’t stop us offering refreshments on Sundays and other times when the church is open to visitors. Half full again.

The access ramp from pavement level is galloping forward, but slowly. We have a keen benefactor, and Dudley MBC, Historic England and the Diocese of Worcester are supportive. This was the project we thought would be easy, but so many hurdles have had to be leaped over have meant that it is still work in progress – but hey, we are getting there, so much so I think our cup is more than half full!

In the late 1960s (am I that old?) a lady astrologer named Evadne Price closed, I think, the late night tele programmes with a reading, and then her final words were “think lucky, and you’ll be lucky”.

How true that is, is open to debate, but Evadne was lucky because she lived to be 96 years old.

So, my dear readers, we at St Edmund’s do not have to think lucky,  because we know we are, and we have been lucky because without the help of Andrew Mottram we certainly wouldn’t have got this far.