Marsh Church and Community Volunteer Awards 2018 - Winners


Seven volunteers who make a real difference to the use of their church and to the life of their communities have won the first Marsh Church and Community Volunteer Awards.

The Marsh Church and Community Volunteer Awards celebrate people who have had great ideas about using their church building, have contributed significantly to the sustainability of their church building, or who have helped their local community through or in their church building with exceptional dedication and kindness.

The awards are run jointly by the National Churches Trust and the Marsh Christian Trust

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on 26 June 2018. Each has won £250.

The judges for the Marsh Innovative Church Project Awards were: Luke March DL, Chairman of the National Churches Trust; Emily Reeves and Annie McCarthy, from the Marsh Christian Trust; and Sam Jones, Managing Director of community music organisation Soundthread.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said:

“The work of the seven volunteers who have won a Marsh Church and Community Volunteer Award is truly inspiring.”

“I am delighted that the National Churches Trust was able to celebrate their dedication to churches and to their communities at St Paul’s Cathedral, thanks to the support of the Marsh Christian Trust.”

“Churches, chapels and meeting houses are at the centre of communities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is thanks to the tireless work of these volunteers, and many thousands more, that they are open and welcoming to all.” 

Brian Marsh OBE, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, said:

“We set up this Award with the National Churches Trust to recognise the excellent work being done by church volunteers in transforming their places of worship and to help expand their work in addressing local need within their communities."

"We hope that the Award will help highlight the outstanding efforts of these volunteers in reaching out and supporting those in need.”

The full list of winners is below:

Roger Haggar, Peaceful Places

Roger Haggar coordinated the setting up of Peaceful Places, a heritage tourism trail which tells the stories of a collection of churches across North Ceredigion. It takes in spectacular wildlife and natural beauty, family history and human achievements. It celebrates these special and sometimes hidden places for both local and visitors.

Alex Glanville, Church in Wales, said: “Roger is an extraordinary person, lynch pin in his local church, including its vast wooded graveyard, and has also coordinated the setting up of …Peaceful Places. He is kind, gentle, incredibly hard working [and] deserves recognition though would never seek it.”  

Margaret Jackson, Paisley Methodist Church

Margaret chaired the fundraising committee to repair the roof of Paisley Methodist Church, the only remaining Methodist Central Hall in Scotland. Without the vital repairs, the future of the building was uncertain. Plans focused on revitalising and opening up the building as a cultural and community venue, and was central to Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.

Marian Coates, Committee Member at Paisley Methodist Church, said: “Margaret has chaired the fundraising committee to repair the roof of our church. We needed £450,579 and are just about there.”

Arthur Acheson, May Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast

Arthur Acheson, Clerk of Session at May Street Presbyterian Church, played a pivotal role in raising £500,000 in grants to repair the church, a prominent Grade A listed building in a conservation area in Belfast that was at real risk of closing because of urgent roof repairs. Arthur played a key role in organising, motivating and reaching out to the wider community to save the building and creating options for a sustainable future.

Arthur says: “We fervently believe that our premises will continue to be used for Christian worship and community for years to come.”

Judith Kauntze, Devon Historic Churches Trust

Judith plays a key role in the Devon Historic Churches Trust (DHCT). She applies for local trust funding, as well as designing the DHCT’s Annual Review and website. Judith transformed the Devon Historic Churches Day, incorporating Ride+Stride, into a major fundraising day for the DHCT. Her efforts meant a significant increase in funding, participation, and awareness. Hundreds of churches open, taking part in Ride+Stride or holding other fundraising activities. Trust funding has increased by £30,000 a year thanks to her work.

John Mills, Hon. Treasurer of the Devon Historic Churches Trust, said: “Judith has made a huge contribution to the DHCT through fundraising, administration of the Trust and recruitment of new trustees and volunteers.”

Tracey Fellows, St James, Whitfield, Derbyshire

Tracey leads two major volunteer initiatives in Whitfield, which is amongst the most disadvantaged 20% of communities and has a higher than average unemployment rate. Tracey leads a team of volunteers to provide a free weekly café in the church, and coordinates a community bus to collect those who would not be able to get out by themselves. She has also set up an emergency food support service and leads important youth outreach work.

Jane Higginbottom, Parish Operations Manager, St James and St Luke Churches Glossop, said: “Tracey goes out of her way all of the time to use the church buildings and our church people to make a huge difference…She is a true light sharing Jesus’ love in the community, supporting them through kindness and practical assistance in so many ways.”

Anita Mansell, Holy Trinity Old Hill, West Midlands

Anita Mansell led the essential building work to enable Holy Trinity Old Hill to be used to serve the community for the next 100 years. Anita became churchwarden of the church in 2011, and was determined to take responsibility for the building.  She wrote funding bids, liaising with architects, the church council, diocesan officers, and community groups. Anita promoted a positive view of the building as a heritage asset. The church now runs a number of activities for children and young people.

Rev Nick Gowers of Holy Trinity Old Hill said: “Her passion and commitment to see our 1876 building remain open each day so we can serve our community is extraordinary.”

Ossie Lundie-Smith, St Mary’s Church, Walthamstow

Ossie Lundie-Smith leads on St Mary’s Music Hall Project, an initiative to bring live music to local people developed by Soundthread. He has played a key role in supporting the vision and advocate to enable the initiative to move forward, and understands the importance of St Mary’s church being a welcoming place to the local community in Walthamstow. St Mary’s Music Hall showcases contemporary folk, jazz and world music. It was central to a Heritage Lottery Funding bid to carry out urgently needed repairs.

Sam Jones, co-founder of Soundthread, said: “He has been instrumental in making the whole Music Hall project happen by brokering relationships so smoothly between us and the congregation.”