Winners of the first ever National Church Awards have been announced by Hugh Dennis, comedian, presenter and actor, and Canon Ann Easter, a former chaplain to HM Queen Elizabeth, at a ceremony held before a specially invited audience of church and heritage lovers on Monday 24 October at the historic Mercers’ Company Livery Hall in the City of London.
The National Church Awards, run by the National Churches Trust, celebrate churches and the people who use and look after them.
The top prize of Church of the Year 2022 was won by St Macartan (The Forth Chapel), Augher, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland (pictured below, receiving the Church of the Year award).
This beautiful church, located in the heart of the Clogher Valley, dates from 1838 – 1846 and was once the cathedral of the Roman Catholic diocese of Clogher. The church is famous for its gorgeous Clarke Studio stained glass windows, installed in 1922. These have recently been restored as part of a major heritage project led by Martin McKenna.
The judges singled out the church for the combined strength of its approach to looking after the building, the involvement of local people as volunteers and the way that St Macartan’s is promoted as part of the heritage of County Tyrone.
Hugh Dennis said:
“Packed with history and heritage, centres for vital community support and places for worship and reflection, churches are a beating heart of the nation. A huge congratulation to all of the winners of this year’s awards, all of whom love and care for their churches. The National Church Awards will inspire others with new ideas to make their churches welcoming, long lasting and thriving, at the service of all.“
Claire Walker, Chief Executive, of the National Churches Trust said:
“Our new National Church Awards bring together all that is brilliant about the work happening in and around church buildings Architecture, maintenance, supporting volunteers and providing a great welcome are all hugely important to the future of churches.
The Church of the Year is a shining example of a church, chapel or meeting house which is open, available to all and supported by the local community. It should meet the needs of this community and be welcoming to those visiting from near and far.”
About the awards
The National Church Awards had winners in four categories; Architecture, Community & Volunteers, Maintenance, and Tourism. Judges chose winners from over nearly 200 nominations made by churches throughout the UK. As well as one overall winner in each of the four categories, winners were also chosen in each category for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Full details of each award are below.
The National Church Awards are supported by The Pilgrim Trust, The Marsh Charitable Trust, The Mercers’ Company, Ecclesiastical Insurance and the Ecclesiastical Architects & Surveyors Association.