‘Lottery plaque is too tasteless for church’

Welby Church in Melton which received a Lottery grant for renovation work but is unhappy about its logo being displayed on a plaque EMN-170131-144955001
Welby Church in Melton which received a Lottery grant for renovation work but is unhappy about its logo being displayed on a plaque EMN-170131-144955001
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Plans to install a plaque to recognise the Lottery’s part in saving an historic church have been blocked on the grounds that it is considered too ‘large and tasteless’.

St Bartholomew’s at Welby, near Melton, was in danger of closing until the Heritage Lottery Fund allocated a £140,000 grant to pay for essential repairs.

A condition of the funding was that the fund’s support should be acknowledged on the church.

A plaque was due to be fixed to the wall of the Grade II listed Medievel building only for the Church of England’s Consistory Court to step in and block it.

Chancellor of Leicester, Mark Blackett-Ord, in his role as a judge of the church court, accepted that one of the conditions of the grant was that there should be public recognition of the Lottery’s support.

But he said he considered there was ‘little justification’ in installing a plaque ‘as large and tasteless’ as the one proposed.

The planned plaque was made of transparent perspex on which was written, in blue, ‘Heritage Lottery Fund – Lottery Funded’.

The sign would have included the fund’s logo, which was a combination of a smiling face and a hand with crossed fingers.

He commented: “I believe that the crossed fingers are indeed a remote Christian reference, indicating prayer, and suggesting that punters might pray to be lottery winners.

“But I do not expect that the Christian reference will be noted by many.

“The real purpose of the motif is presumably to encourage those who buy lottery tickets to hope that they might thereby become rich, which is not a particularly Christian purpose.”

The Dicesan Advisory Committee has suggested a smaller plaque might be more suitable for St Bartholomew’s.

“Indeed, the smaller the plaque the more acceptable it will be,” Mr Blackett-Ord said.

The matter has now been put on hold to give the Welby church authorities an opportunity to amend their request to one for a ‘compact’ plaque, which is no more than 12cm high and in black and white only, with no blue on it.

As well as the renovations, the Lottery funding also paid for the church to be part-converted into a heritage centre dedicated to the lost Medieval village which once thrived there.

St Bartholomew’s dates from 1180 and needed a complete overhaul of its roof in the recent works.

Vicar at the time, the Rev Sharon Constable, said its future was in serious doubt before repairs were carried out.