Visitors to a 19th century South Lakeland village church can now make their way into the building more safely and easily thanks to a four-figure grant from a renewable energy firm.
The concrete paths leading into and going around St Peter’s Church in Mansergh near Kirkby Lonsdale had become broken up and dangerous to use, with the inclined 40m path up to the church door being especially difficult for older worshippers and those with mobility problems.
The issue had been identified in the latest diocesan report on the condition of the building, leading the District Church Committee, which is responsible for managing the upkeep of the church, to look for ways to raise the money needed to pay for the required repairs.
The committee applied to the community benefits fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Armistead Wind Farm, which provides grants to help make a positive, long-term difference to local voluntary groups, environmental projects and community facilities in the area.
And after receiving a £6,996 grant from the fund, the District Church Committee was able to commission local contractors Wenning Surfacing to carry out the work required.
The paths have now all been resurfaced with a higher grade of tarmac which will be better able to withstand the impact of the weather and which is also much more suitable for wheelchair users.
The Grade II listed St Peter’s Church was built in 1874 to replace an 18th century predecessor and sits in one of eight parishes across South Lakeland which together form the Rainbow Parish Community.
A community hall which was formerly the village schoolroom sits alongside the church and is used for a wide range of church and community events and activities.
Yvette Burchnall, district church committee member at St Peter’s, says: “We’d long been aware of the increasing problems with the state of the paths around the church, and while they had been patched up over time, they were becoming ever more dangerous for visitors to use, especially when icy or wet.
“The inclined path up to the church door was a particular concern, and while it difficult for many of our older parishioners to walk up in bad weather, the return journey downhill was even more precarious.
“The congregation is very pleased with the improvements that have been made and it’s made a real difference to the confidence that they have that they’ll be able to make their way safely into and out of church.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into fundraising for repairs to the church tower over recent years and also have a lot of other regular costs to cover, meaning that we didn’t have the money needed to complete the repairs to the path that we knew were getting increasingly urgent.
“Banks Renewables’ support has filled a funding gap that would otherwise have taken us years to address and we’re really grateful for their generous contribution towards improving the fabric of our church.”
The Armistead Wind Farm Community Fund will provide around £500,000 of community funding from the revenue of the Armistead Wind Farm, which produces enough clean electricity to meet the annual needs of more than 8,000 homes.
Earlier this year, Banks Renewables was given permission by South Lakeland District Council for permission to run the six-turbine scheme for an additional 15 years, taking its expected lifespan to a maximum of 40 years, and Banks has confirmed that it will also make the Armistead community fund available for the same extended period.
Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Armistead Wind Farm Fund is specifically designed to help local community organisations improve the facilities they can offer to people in the area and its great to see how the St Peter’s District Church Committee has been able to use its grant to do just that.”
Anyone interested in applying for funding from the Armistead Wind Farm Community Fund should first contact the fund manager via email@example.com or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.