Luke March, Chairman of the National Churches Trust, said:
“Volunteers across all parts of the UK play active and very important roles within their local community, keeping their churches and chapels open to serve the wider public, and supporting people’s well-being in numerous and often extraordinary ways.“
“The Local Treasures awards reflect this healthy variety. The inspiring projects celebrate a tremendous range of innovation, good ideas, exciting partnerships and engagement inside and outside of congregations that make a real difference to strengthening the future of churches and the wider community.”
“I’d like to thank the Mercers’ Company for providing the venue for the Local Treasures awards and to the Marsh Christian Trust and The Pilgrim Trust for working with us, providing prize money and for supporting the awards. “
“I’d also like to thank the sponsors of the awards, Edwards Insurance and Distributed Sound & Video Ltd., for their generous support of the event.”
2019 Marsh Innovative Church Project Awards
Now in its fourth year, the Marsh Innovative Church Project Awards, run jointly by the National Churches Trust and the Marsh Christian Trust, is a competition to find the Christian congregations running the best community activities in a church building.
The awards were presented by Nick Carter on behalf of the Marsh Christian Trust together with Sam Jones of the Music Halls Project.
- Winner - The Lighthouse Project by Hackney Church, London
Judges selected The Lighthouse Project for outstanding awareness and responsiveness to its community, for an exceptional standard of delivery and innovative partnerships. The church received a prize of £1,500.
Hackney Church (which includes Grade II* listed St John at Hackney and St Luke’s Homerton Terrace) helps over 800 people a week through the Lighthouse Project. Partnerships including a drop-in-lunch in collaboration with leading restaurant chain Moro. Hackney Church is also a partner in the new Hackney Church Brew Co., profits from which help to fund the church's work with the homeless and vulnerable.
- Runner Up - The Holy Trinity Outreach Project at Holy Trinity without-the-walls, Blacon, Chester
Judges selected The Holy Trinity Outreach Project for being at the heart of its community, for excellence in the development and delivery of its vision and for providing fully joined up support. The church received a prize of £500.
The Holy Trinity Outreach Project provides a range of services that help to reduce isolation and loneliness, support well-being, and link to further help and a healthy lifestyle. Activities include the Meeting Place Community Café, a place of welcome with crafts; a Gardening Project and Cooking Made Simple classes which launched in 2018 after kitchen facilities were expanded with the help of grant funding, including from the National Churches Trust.
The following projects were also shortlisted for the awards.
- Christ Church PCC partnership with Circus Central and Christ Church of England Primary School, Christ Church, Shieldfield, Newcastle.
Shortlisted for innovation in new uses for this important Grade II* church. Circus Central offers a range of classes and events teaching circus skills. An arrangement with the North East Circus Development Trust means that the church and church school share the site. This provides funding for the church building and improved facilities so that it can continue to be used for worship and by the public.
- Daylight Music and the Margins Café, Union Chapel, Islington, London
Shortlisted for activities delivering multiple benefits, Daylight Music’s ‘pay-what-you-can’ lunchtime concerts in the Grade I listed Union Chapel, organised and curated by Ben Eshmade of Arctic Circle, attract large audiences and create volunteering opportunities. During concerts the Margins’ Café team serve tea, coffee, bacon butties and homemade cakes. The Café is staffed by trainees on a paid Supported Employment Programme run by The Margins Project which helps people facing homelessness, crisis and isolation. The kitchen was funded by the National Churches Trust.
- Safehaven at St Peter’s, Brighton
Shortlisted for providing great volunteering programmes, a raft of well targeted activities and for inspiring others, Safehaven delivers exceptional services and resources to help homeless and other vulnerable people in Brighton through an extensive volunteer programme in a Grade II* listed church that had been threatened with closure. A past grantee of the National Churches Trust, St Peter’s now works with and has inspired other congregations throughout Brighton and Hove.
The Good Guardianship Awards
Run by the National Churches Trust in partnership with The Pilgrim Trust, these new awards reward local people for excellence in planning the maintenance of a church or chapel. Good maintenance practice, including annual maintenance plans, regular inspections and small preventative repairs stop many minor problems from escalating into large, expensive repair needs that can threaten the future of a building.
The awards were presented by Stephen Sklaroff, Trustee of the National Churches Trust.
- Winner - St James the Great, Cradley, Herefordshire
Grade II* listed, this has been a place of worship for many centuries. Open daily for visitors, including walkers, self-service free tea and coffee facilities are always available. Currently the community is working towards being taken off the Heritage At Risk Register. The church received a prize of £5,000 towards the ongoing care of their place of worship.
- Runner Up - St Botolph’s, Colchester, Essex
Grade II listed late Georgian town church with excellent acoustics, St Botolph’s is an important spiritual centre in Colchester and is widely regarded as Colchester’s best concert venue. The church received a prize of £1,500 towards the ongoing care of their place of worship.
- Runner Up - Brighton Unitarian Church, Brighton, Sussex
Built in1820 and part of Brighton’s Regency streetscape, Grade II listed, this striking building has now been removed from Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register following successful major works. The maintenance plan they have introduced will help to secure the building’s future as an active centre of worship, cultural and community activity. The church received a prize of £1,500 towards the ongoing care of their place of worship.
The following projects were also shortlisted for the awards.
- St Buryan, St Buryan, Cornwall
A huge, Grade I listed collegiate church, ‘the Cathedral of the West’ dedicated to St Buriana, a 5th century Irish Saint. Successfully now removed from Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register, sustainable maintenance planning is key to its ongoing success.
- St Peter & St Paul, Bardwell, Suffolk
A Grade I listed thirteenth century church that has recently undertaken major repairs, regular maintenance will help the congregation to continue to serve the local community into the future.
The Marsh Church and Community Volunteer Awards
In their second year, the Marsh Church and Community Volunteer Awards, run jointly by the National Churches Trust and the Marsh Christian Trust, celebrate people who have had great ideas for using churches, have contributed significantly to the sustainability of church buildings, or who have helped their local community through or in their church building with exceptional dedication and kindness. Each winning volunteer received a prize of £250.
The awards were presented by Nick Carter on behalf of the Marsh Christian Trust.
The 2019 winners
- Barbara Lewis, Annan United Reformed Church, Scotland. For her dedication engaging young people through music and fundraising for the church and other causes.
- Chris Baily, Art in the Churches, Yorkshire, England. For innovation by local people attracting audiences to churches through art and the “Sculpt” trail.
- David Furnival, Chairman, Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust, England For engaging new audiences with churches through Music in Quiet Places, a successful concert series bringing high quality performances to local people and providing opportunities for young people.
- Graham Harris BEM, The Friends of Leigh Church, Somerset, England. For his dedication and service to his church, community and for encouraging visitors and helping the Somerset Churches Trust through the East Mendips Churches Heritage Trail.
- Peter and Hilary Lovitt, St German’s, Cardiff, Wales. For their dedication in serving people who are homeless in Cardiff, for saving a heritage building and contributing to the community.
- Theophilia Shaw, St Peter’s, Walworth, London, England. For exceptional volunteering within the church and community, inspiring young people and helping people in crisis and need.
- The Ulster Historic Churches Trust Trustees, Northern Ireland For helping local people to address and tackle maintenance through the Maintenance Project in Northern Ireland, where supporting good maintenance practice is essential to the sustainability of churches.
Friends Vote Winner
Also attending the awards were representatives from the winner of the 2019 National Churches Trust Friends Vote. This awards £10,000 to a church or chapel undertaking a major capital building project. Supporters of the National Churches Trust vote for the project that they want to help from a selection of grant aided communities doing an excellent job in caring for their heritage building and where extra funding and publicity would help them towards their goal significantly.
The award was presented by Stephen Sklaroff, Trustee of the National Churches Trust.
- The 2019 winner - St Just, St Just-in-Penwith, Cornwall was awarded the 2019 Friends Vote Grant in September 2019.
The £10,000 grant will help to fund the church’s major repair project to reroof the church, undertake masonry repairs and address the rainwater goods – making it watertight and safe for worshippers, building users and visitors. This will secure the building and protect early Christian heritage which dates back to the 5th to 6th Centuries, including the Selus Stone.
Once the building has been repaired, the church hopes to develop a flexible community space with a loo and kitchen facilities. St Just church is located in an area of rural deprivation and has substantial potential to enhance its activities to further support community need. Funding from the Friends of the National Churches Trust Grant will help remove the Church from Historic England’s At Risk Register.