Users of an historic South Yorkshire community church are getting used to the sound of music once again after a four-figure donation from a renewable energy firm enabled them to complete much-needed repairs to the church organ.
All Saints Church in Hooton Pagnell was awarded a £3,000 grant from the Community Benefits Fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Marr Wind Farm to help cover the cost of restoration.
The organ, which is almost one hundred years old and one of very few in the area to have a full octave range, had become increasingly unreliable in recent years and was potentially going to have to be mothballed if the required repairs were not carried out quickly.
Parishioners had organised a range of events to help bring in the money required, including coffee mornings and a garden party, but were still substantially short of the £8,000 cost of completing the required repairs until Banks Renewables stepped in.
Specialist church organ builder Peter Spencer, who has been involved in the maintenance of the instrument for more than 20 years, has completely re-leathered its interior and replaced almost all of its primary, secondary and main power motors – and the newly-repaired organ is now once again being put to good use at church and community functions.
Dating back to Norman time, All Saints Church is one of the three oldest churches in the Diocese of Sheffield and serves a community of around 2,500 people.
The Marr Wind Farm generates over 20,100 MW of green electricity every year, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of more than 5,150 homes, and by doing so, displaces around 7,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network per annum.
Jamie Murdoch, a member of the All Saints Church committee, says: “The state of the organ has been gradually worsening over several years, and had reached the point where just patching things up was no longer an option.
“We launched a fundraising campaign to bring in the money needed to carry out the comprehensive repairs that were needed, but without the support we’ve had from Banks Renewables, we’d have had to mothball the organ until we were able to cover all of the costs.
“Since the repairs were finished, we’ve hosted a number of weddings as well as a concert from a visiting Durham University choir, and it’s made such a difference to be able to use the organ as part of these events – it’s an indispensable part of church life and it’s wonderful to hear it sounding as it should once again.”
The Marr Wind Farm Community Fund will provide over £225,000 of community funding over the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan, and aims to make a positive, long-term difference to local voluntary groups, environmental projects and community facilities in these areas.
Eligibility for grants is normally restricted to the parishes of Barnburgh, Brodsworth, Hickleton, High Melton, Marr, and Sprotbrough & Cusworth, but projects outside these areas may be eligible if it can be shown that they benefit local people from these parishes.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at Banks Renewables, adds: “The Marr community benefits fund uses revenues generated by the wind farm revenues to make tangible improvements in the communities surrounding it, and helping to restore All Saints’ organ to its former glory is a wonderful example of what can be achieved.
“We’re always open to new ideas from local groups and good causes about how this money might best be allocated, and would urge people living in the area to have a think about any projects they might like to put forward.”
Community groups or voluntary organisations in the vicinity of the Marr Wind Farm which are looking for a grant of up to £3,000 should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.