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Holbeach church successful in bid for Culture Recovery Fund grant

A fundraising appeal for a Holbeach landmark has ended with a "miracle" intervention from the Government.

Less than two years after All Saints Church launched a campaign to raise up to £200,000 for repairs to its tower, a grant of nearly £67,400 has been secured through the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

Work on the Grade I-listed church is due to start in January at a total cost of nearly £84,240, with the rest of the money coming from a legacy left to All Saints by the Bass family, of Holbeach.

All Saints Church overlooking Market Hill in Holbeach.
All Saints Church overlooking Market Hill in Holbeach.


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Churchwarden Mick Boylan said: "Every five years, the church has an inspection and during the last one in 2015, an architect pointed out that work was needed urgently on the tower and west window.

"We launched the All Saints Tower Appeal in December 2018 and although lots of donations were dropped in the church safe, they were nowhere near enough to do the work.

"Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic didn't help because it stopped us doing a lot of the fundraising we normally would have done.

"Without this grant, the tower repairs would never have been done - not for a long time - and so it's like somebody has shone a light on us and come up with a miracle."

All Saints is the fourth building or organisation in South Holland to be supported by CRF cash after South Holland Centre (£170, 860), Spalding-based Polka Dot Pantomimes (£63,500) and Moulton Windmill (£34,500).

The £1.57billion CRF, created in August to safeguard the future of museums, art galleries, theatres, heritage buildings and independent cinemas with emergency grants, is run by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Holbeach parish councillor Isobel Hutchinson, who set up the All Saints Tower Appeal, said: "It is fantastic news that we can now go ahead with the tower project and ensure our beautiful church is preserved for generations to come.

"Unfortunately, because of the tight timescales associated with the grant, we can only get the tower repairs done at this stage as part of the CRF criteria is that no other grants can be used for this project.

"Once the tower is completed we will be looking to get the west window restored and, hopefully, some of the other grants we were allocated can be used for this, along with all the money previously raised towards the tower appeal."

The Rev Rosamund Seal, vicar of Holbeach, said: "As a major national church, we have been awarded £67,387 from the CRF towards the work on the tower.

"I came back from a week off in August to find an email from Rosie Smith, the Major Parish Churches officer, encouraging applications to this fund for single projects, with a closing date three days hence.

"She asked churchwarden Mick Boylan if he had time to follow this up and though he could not get the application done in time, he was advised to submit it for the next round of potential funding.

"However, we had to guarantee that the work could be completed by March 2021 and so long conversations had to be held with the contractors and architect about whether this would be possible.

"Then there was a huge delay in finding out whether we had been awarded the grant, followed by a further delay before we could announce it so it will be touch and go whether we can get the work done in time.

"Both I and the church community are indebted to Mick for seeing the application process through, all against the back drop of coping with the pandemic and ensuring that we had the faculty (right to carry out work) and potential contractors in place.

"We are all relieved that Mick's hard work has been rewarded in this way.

"All Saints Church reopened daily for private prayer from June 16 after a wonderful team of socially distanced and masked volunteers cleaned and sanitised the church from top to bottom, including Lord (John) Taylor of Holbeach who brought along his hoover and commented on how lovely it was to be working alongside real people again.

"We reopened for Sunday worship on July 5 and met weekly until the current lockdown, during which we are unable to have public worship.

"Instead, we are broadcasting services from the church building each Sunday at a time when we have seen a dramatic fall in our income this year, without much of our Sunday giving and with no Holbeach Flower Festival or St Nicholas Fayre which have been major fundraisers in recent years.

"Our church is a welcoming place of worship at the heart of the community, located on a much-used public thoroughfare, with so much more potential for encouraging people to explore their local heritage and as a venue for cultural and community activities of many kinds.

"It is hoped that the funding of this work will enable us to develop our role and significance in the local community once the pandemic is over.

"We believe that All Saints was accepted for this funding because we are located in an area with a relatively high index of multiple deprivation and a relative lack of access to cultural and heritage buildings, compared to other areas of the country.

"I am due to retire in the summer of 2021 and so it will be wonderful to see this major piece of work completed before I go and to know that the church community is well on the way to securing the future sustainability of this significant national church."

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