St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Skerton has been guiven a cash boost after the award of Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Made possible by National Lottery players, the grant will support a project to renew the fabric of the historic building and make it more accessible to the wider community.
Only last year, the church, which is a Grade II listed building designed by the famous Pugin family and boasting some unique Gillow furnishings, was placed on the National Buildings at Risk register.
The grant will help to galvanise local support to preserve this unique building in the lives of the people of Skerton and beyond.
More than 100 years on from its foundation, St Joseph’s Church is facing problems. Recent architectural surveys revealed structural faults in the Tower, as well as damp caused by corrosion of the external masonry and damage to the spouts and guttering.
Development funding of £15,700 has been awarded to St Joseph’s to help to ascertain where the difficulties lie and to explore ways in which to address them.
Plans will also be developed to make the church more accessible with disabled access and facilities, and ways will be explored to make the church open throughout the whole year.
These development plans will enable St Joseph’s to apply for a full grant at a later date.
Parish Priest, Fr Philip Conner, said the wider parish community is delighted to have received support.
“The project is the fruit of much hard work from our parish finance and property committee, and reflects the desire of our parish to reach out to the wider community, to welcome people of every age, background and nationality, and to find ways to serve the particular needs of Skerton,” he said.
“It is our desire that St Joseph’s, once restored to its former glory, will continue to serve as a beacon of hope for many generations to come: a place of rest for all people in this busy world, a place to enjoy the beauty and history, prayer and silence, and warmth and friendship that St Joseph’s offers.”
Already a group within the parish has been looking at ways to involve as wide a group as possible in the fundraising and the development of outreach with the local schools, the university, musicians and artists, other churches and religious groups, local heritage groups, and of course, its parishioners.
Fr Conner added: “The great thing about this grant is that it provides an opportunity to generate a sense of local pride in what we have, a sense of community, and a sense of hope as people learn new skills and take up the new opportunities that we hope will emerge from this venture.”