Nayler Award for Excellence in Church Maintenance Winner 2021

Bacon butties help Surbiton church win top award

St Matthew's church, Surbiton, has been named as the UK's best maintained church.


The Surrey church has won The 2021 Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance.

The Nayler Award and a prize of £7,500, was announced by Georgina Nayler MBE, former Director of The Pilgrim Trust and after whom the awards are named, at a special online awards ceremony on Friday 19 November 2021.

Now in their second year, The Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance are supported by The Pilgrim Trust and organised by The National Churches Trust. The awards celebrate the magnificent effort of the many thousands of volunteers who look after the UK's church buildings.

The winning church

In selecting St Matthew's church in Surbiton as the winning entry, judges praised the team who look after the Grade II* Listed building for having in place a robust maintenance plan and for their practical solutions to solving problems faced by a building that is over 150 years old.

Judges also highlighted the involvement of volunteers in the church's regular 'Maintenance Mornings' which include bacon butties to encourage involvement by the congregation in keeping the church windproof and watertight.

Twelve churches were shortlisted for The Nayler Awards in 2021.

Rev Helen Hancock, Team Rector of St Matthew's church said:

"We are delighted to have won The 2021 Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance. In the last three years we have completed a significant spire and tower repair project. That has helped us to realise that we need to have a regular maintenance plan in place."

"Maintenance work is largely driven by our wonderful volunteers who help St Matthew's to continue to be a beacon of light. It is a huge responsibility to look after a church building of this age. So it is really encouraging to have received this award which recognises how we are adding to the life of our community and looking after the heritage of our building."

St Matthew's church was built in 1874-5 and paid for by a single benefactor, who was a senior partner in Coutts Bank. It was designed by a local architect in the neo-Gothic style and has an elegant tower and spire which can be seen for miles around. A growing and thriving church, it brings together a wide range of ages, backgrounds and approaches to God.

Runners Up Awards

There is also good news for two other churches shortlisted for The Nayler Awards. All Saints, Shillington, Bedfordshire and St Andrew's church, Harberton, Devon, both won a special Runners Up award and a cash prize of £2,500.

All Saints was praised for being very well organised, with maintenance an integral part of the whole church structure not just an add on. Judges were particularly impressed with St Andrew's plan for demonstrating very clearly how it looks after its volunteers, with clear policies and risk assessments.

In 2020 the title of the UK's best maintained church went to Christ Church in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire.

You can watch a video of the 2021 Nayler Awards and find out more about church building maintenance on You Tube

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

"Well done St Matthew's church in Surbiton, the well deserved winners of The 2021 Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance. The church is a great example of how having in place a good maintenance plan helps to prevent costly repair bills. Our thanks go to The Pilgrim Trust who support The Nayler Awards which celebrate the unsung heroes who keep church buildings well maintained and fit for the future."

Sue Bowers, Director of the Pilgrim Trust said:

"Many congratulations to St Matthew's church in Surbiton for winning this year's Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance, thanks to the team effort of all those involved in looking after the building".

"The Pilgrim Trust is delighted to support The Nayler Awards which seek to raise awareness of the importance of good maintenance in safeguarding our local churches and avoiding costly repairs, and to recognize the commitment of the thousands of volunteers who care for them and keep them open for all. On behalf of the judging panel, I would like to thank all the churches who took part and to the National Churches Trust for organising the awards."

About The Nayler Awards

The Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance are supported by the Pilgrim Trust and run by the National Churches Trust.

The Pilgrim Trust is an independent grant-making trust with over 90 years of experience supporting the urgent and future needs of the United Kingdom. Each year it gives approximately £3 million to charities and other public bodies that work on preserving the country's heritage or catalysing social change.

The National Churches Trust is the UK charity supporting churches, chapels and meeting houses so that they remain at the heart of the communities for which they were built and can continue to play an integral part in all our lives.

Find out more about The Nayler Awards for Excellence in Church Maintenance