By Betsy Everett
Ongoing repairs to St Oswald’s Church, Askrigg, will cost thousands of pounds in the coming months and church members alone will struggle to raise the cash for the Grade 1 listed building, say members of the parochial church council.
Just days after the church held a “thank you” tea for all in the community who had made generous donations to fund repairs to the bells and the clock, a letter has been sent to every household in the parish outlining the work that still needs to be done and seeking support.
“”We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community and further afield in our work to preserve St Oswald’s not just for this generation but for the future,” says the letter, adding that “We are continually grateful for the generous gifts of the local community.”
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But churchwardens Elizabeth Fawcett and Tricia Selby point out how much is still to be done.
The church organ needs to be removed for repair and upgrading, the poor lighting upgraded and a major project will shortly be underway to address the severe damp in the tower of the church, parts of which date back to the 15th Century.
To help address the problem the church will hold its annual gift day on Saturday, August 26, when two members of the PCC will sit outside the church on the cobbles to receive donations.
“This is a tradition that has continued for many decades and we are always grateful to those who may not go to church every Sunday but who give so generously,” said Mrs Selby who, with MaryRose Kearney, will be present to receive donations from 9am-noon.
Another member of the congregation, Margaret Thompstone, will also be available – as she is each year – to receive gifts outside her home in Bainbridge from 10am-noon.
St Oswald’s, like other parish churches, receives no money from either the government or the Church of England nationally to support their ongoing work in the community, yet everyone in the country has a right to burial, baptism and marriage in their parish church.
“Maintaining and caring for such a beautiful and ancient building is hugely expensive and the cost cannot be borne solely by those who attend church. We rely on our community and they never let us down,” said Mrs Selby.