Boost for next phase of church’s project

Jasmine Cheung, eight, a pupil at Sharow School, performs a dance routine in the newly created space in the village's church. (GL100276g)
Jasmine Cheung, eight, a pupil at Sharow School, performs a dance routine in the newly created space in the village's church. (GL100276g)
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The next stage of the Vision Project for St John’s Church in Sharow has been given a major boost with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The first phase of renovations worth £240,000 has just been completed, with an open weekend held on April 5-6 to showcase the comfortable and flexible space created for use by the whole community.

The Vision Phase Two project aims to help visitors of all ages engage with the distinctive heritage of St John’s by developing new teaching and learning resources with an emphasis on interactivity.

Having passed the first round, the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed an upfront development grant of £12,300 to help St John’s draw up more detailed plans. A final bid for approximately £420,000 will then be submitted within the next six to 12 months with a decision sometime later.

The church’s vicar, Rev Peter Clement, said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. This church has been the central point of the village for the past 190 years, and it’s great to know that we are not only preserving its heritage for the future but further enabling it to be the living heart of the community now.”

Some of that heritage, including the stained glass windows, is in need of restoration and this will form the second element of the project.

The third element will be to further enhance the facilities by providing a multifunctional meeting room/resource centre, better accessibility into the building for those with disabilities, a new kitchen and toilets and converting a small field into a car park – ending years of on-street parking difficulties.

St John’s is set to further its reputation as a popular venue that the whole community can use.

There are already many regular and one-off bookings in the diary for activities including gymnastics, concerts, drama and local groups.

The church has also had a wedding scheduled for 2015 where the bride plans to have the wedding in the church grounds and the reception inside the church itself.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.

For more information, visit www.hlf.org.uk