Holy Trinity Church, Norton Juxta Twycross has given thanks to God and celebrated the completion of a major repairs project, led by Bishop Saju.
Following a project in 2012 to add extra land drainage outside, repairs to the roof ridge and some isolated ceiling plaster repairs, it was hoped the damp problems were alleviated and the ceiling sound again. However, by 2018 there were more ceiling plaster falls.
A spokesperson for the church said: "Thanks to a generous legacy from Mary Jones, we were able to investigate the ceiling issues, including hammer-testing. The investigations showed that the laths were splitting, putting pressure on the plaster, which in turn wasn’t keyed very well. The lath and plaster ceilings needed to be replaced.
"Externally, the tiles on the south roof face were obviously slipping, indicating that the tiling battens needed to be replaced as well.A bat survey showed that we had visiting, rather than roosting, brown long-eared bats. This meant any roof/ceiling works would need to be completed in the winter months, whilst they were hibernating elsewhere."
Thus, with a sense of deja-vu, the church community began this second project.
"Being such a small congregation, with limited visitors and income, the task of funding the works was challenging. We just had to have faith that God would provide. We are thankful that Peter, our architect, was flexible in when he was paid, so that we could get the ball rolling: the specification written, tenders sought, and the requisite permission obtained. We also thank Chris Smith for generously providing the bat surveys without charging us for his services.
"Then came the many, many grant applications. With the arrival of covid, many trusts diverted their funding to necessary social needs. As grant rejections were received, or worse – no response at all, it was easy to get dejected, but we held onto the knowledge that “if God wants the church to continue in this place, then He will fix the roof” – and as we see today – He did!
"We are grateful to the local funders who gave at the beginning of our journey: Jack Patston Trust, Paget Trust, Twycross Parish Council, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council & Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust. It is thanks to them that we then had sufficient funds in time to apply to larger trusts.
"When we applied to the National Churches Trust, we expected there to still be a funding shortfall. However, the NCT generously then applied to Historic England for funds from the government’s ‘Heritage Stimulus Fund’ for grants towards various projects, including ours. Historic England in turn generously granted us £61,626 - sufficient funds for the works to begin, including contingency for the uplift in costs since tendering in 2019. They also, later, added another £11,000 towards extra wall plaster repairs. We are especially grateful to NCT as this necessitated extra workload for them acting as middlemen, and we have included a separate sheet of information about them – if you wish to join in supporting them just as they supported us. Donations for the National Churches Trust will be gratefully received and may be left on the collection plates at the back of church.
"Other funders also granted funds in the autumn and without all those extra funds the works wouldn’t have proceeded. It is thanks to another generous legacy, from Mary Margoschis, that we were also able to fund low-level wall plaster repairs, as these weren’t grant eligible.
"Works finally began in November 2021. We thank the main contractor, Midlands Conservation Ltd, for their patience during the long wait as we raised funds – to then have to start promptly at short notice, as per the grant conditions. The project has cost £142,000 and entailed:
re-battening & re-tiling the south roof face (still allowing bat access), replacing the high ceilings & decoration, various wall plaster repairs, adding window grills to keep birds out, plus a few smaller repairs.
"I personally thank God for his sense of humour and timing, weaving unexpected personal medical issues alongside this works project – but waiting until most of the grant applications had gone out before revealing the issue. Thanks to Simon Headley, from the diocese, who is playing the organ tonight, for walking alongside me with the project in case he needed to step in with grant reports etc if I was unable. I also thank Peter and the contractors for being flexible with meeting dates and reassuring me when I got over stressed. We especially thank Darren, and associates, for the long hours spent up on the roof during the cold winter months."