New kitchen facilities at a South Lakeland church are helping to increase the numbers of people coming along to the historic venue.
The Parochial Church Council at St John the Baptist Church in Old Hutton had been looking at ways of increasing the number of local people who visited the 140-year old building in order to extend the use of the church beyond its Sunday services and secure its long-term sustainability.
The lack of catering facilities had been identified as a major drawback in achieving this goal, leading to the PCC drawing up plans to create a new kitchen area at the rear of the church which would provide a larger space that could be used for other activities and meetings.
A £3,000 grant from renewable energy firm Banks Renewables from the community fund linked to its nearby Armistead wind farm has enabled the PCC to buy all the kitchen units it required from Kendal-based supplier Howdens, and these have now been fitted by local joinery firm A Nelson & Son.
The new facilities are already being well used by the local community, with a new regular social group for older residents having been set up since they were put in place.
A special event attended by the Bishop of Penrith, the Right Reverend Robert Freeman, as well as representatives of the four other local churches that are part of the group to which St John’s belongs, took place last month to mark the new facilities’ official opening.
Tony Bontoft, warden at St John the Baptist Church, says: “Encouraging more people to make use of their facilities is a challenge facing all churches, but it can be especially important in smaller rural communities like ours.
“We realised that we needed to improve the facilities we could offer if we wanted to have more events and activities taking place here, and by replacing two pews at the back of the church with chairs, we’ve created a larger adaptable space that can be put to lots of different uses.
“The response we’ve had to the work that’s been done has been extremely positive, and we hope that the regular sessions for our older residents that are already taking place are just the first of many new activities that will take place at St John’s in the future.
“It would have taken us much more time and a lot more work to raise the money we needed for the kitchen units if we hadn’t had the Banks Group’s support, and we’re looking forward to welcoming as many people and groups as possible in to use our new facilities.”
The Armistead Wind Farm Community Fund will provide up to £307,500 of community funding from the revenue of the Armistead Wind Farm over its 25-year lifespan to help make a positive, long-term difference to local voluntary groups, environmental projects and community facilities in the area.
It’s the third time that funding from the Banks Group has been given to St John’s, with previous grants being put towards roof repairs and the installation a new electricity supply.