Church needs £150,000 upgrade

Church member and reader Mike Alexander and PCC secretary Christine Carter who are organised a fundraising initiative at Waltham Church EMN-150603-123148001
Church member and reader Mike Alexander and PCC secretary Christine Carter who are organised a fundraising initiative at Waltham Church EMN-150603-123148001
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A campaign to raise £150,000 to refurbish an historic church has been launched by members.

The money is needed at St Mary Magdalene Church at Waltham to make the building more accessible and to improve its capacity to host community and social events.

The floor would be raised so the nave and side aisles are on one level to assist visitors with wheelchairs and child buggies and those with impaired mobility.

An enclosed servery area, with connected water supply, is also planned so food and drink can be prepared in the church, parts of which date back to the 13th century.

The proposals also include a dedicated space for mother and toddler and children’s groups.

And a new toilet will be built at the rear of the church so parishioners would no longer need to go past the altar to visit the existing one.

Christine Carter, secretary of the Parochial Church Council, said: “The aim of all this work is to make the church more accessible and enjoyable in future years.

“It’s hard work keeping a heritage building going but these improvements will help us do that.”

Other enhancements planned include improving the heating system so the entire building is warm and the font, which dates back to the church’s origins, will be moved to the front, opposite the south doors, so it is more user-friendly for Christenings.

Side pews, which were installed in the Victorian era, are to be removed and sold off to raise money for the project. Chairs will be used in those areas instead so the building has a more flexible capacity to cater for different events.

The plans also allow a colony of bats to continue visiting the church because they are a protected species.

Mike Alexander, a reader and chairman of the church council, said: “Having the floor on one level will really make the church more accessible and we need to create more space for social activities.”

Church members are to apply for a series of grants, as well as organising fundraising events to generate the money.

A recent magician’s show raised £380 and next month a hymnathon will see two organists play all 756 hymns in the church’s book back-to-back, followed by an evening singalong of faviourite hymns.