Visitors to a popular hall at an historic South Yorkshire village church are now enjoying much improved facilities thanks to a four-figure grant from a renewable energy firm.
The hall that belongs to St Peter’s Church in Barnburgh near Doncaster is used for a wide range of village and church functions, from toddler groups, social events and line dancing sessions through to the church’s plant sales, harvest suppers and Christmas markets.
The District Church Council, which is responsible for looking after both the church and the hall, has been progressively carrying out repairs and improvements to both buildings, and had received a number of comments from visitors about the state of the hall’s bathroom, which only had an old-fashioned toilet that often only flushed intermittently and a floor which often presented a slip hazard for older users.
Having committed significant sums to other urgent repairs around the buildings, the Council was struggling to find the capital required to make the much-needed improvements to the bathroom.
But now, a £2,000 grant from the Community Benefits Fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Marr Wind Farm has enabled the District Church Council to install a new toilet, cistern and electric hand dryer, as well as replacing a leaking bathroom window and upgrading the electrics in that part of the hall.
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.
It’s the second time that St Peter’s has received support from the fund, with a £3,000 grant given in 2019 contributing to essential repairs to the roof over the south aisle of the Grade One-listed building.
St Peter’s is famously known as the Cat And Man Church after the legend of a fight between a knight and a wildcat that ended with the deaths of both of them in the church porch, with legend saying that stones in the floor tinged with red show where it finished.
A place of worship has stood on the site since the year 1150, with much of the current church being built in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Barbara Rutter, deputy church warden at St Peter’s District Church Council, says: “There are always a lot of costs to cover in looking after a building of this age and type, and we try to bring in as much money as we can to help us stay on top of the most pressing issues, but there’s naturally only so much fundraising you can do in a small community.
“We’ve long known that the hall’s bathroom needed attention, but with other priorities to meet, it’s not been something that we’ve able to afford to do until this point, and we would have had to simply muddle along with what we had without the further support we’ve had from Banks Renewables.
“The groups that use the hall have all commented on how much better our bathroom facilities are now, and how much more welcoming it makes the place, and we hope that word of mouth will now encourage other local groups to make use of what we can offer them.”
The four-turbine Marr Wind Farm has generated over £108,000 for the community fund over the last 11 years, with grants totalling more than £63,000 being awarded to over 30 recipients so far.
The independent panel of local community representatives which assesses grant applications recently agreed to increase the maximum grant amount to £5,000, and while the fund primarily assists with capital purchases, applications are also now being considered for help in covering organisations’ running costs.
Banks Renewables is currently looking for permission to extend the lifespan of the Marr Wind Farm by 15 years, to 40 years’ duration, and would extend the lifespan of the community fund by the same amount if its planning application is successful.
Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The community effort that goes into looking after these very special buildings is hugely impressive, and we’re very pleased to be using more of the revenues generated by the Marr Wind Farm to enable this work to be done.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding from the Marr Wind Farm Fund should contact the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/development-with-care/bankscommunityfund