Volunteers and the congregation of a church in Warwick are appealing for help in raising more than £1.5 million so that vital restoration repairs can be made.
Last year a fundraising campaign was launched by the community at St Mary’s Church to help raise £170,000 to restore the church’s iconic tower.
This week the campaign was relaunched but with a target, which is nearly triple the amount of last year’s target.
The church now needs to raise more than £1.5 million to help save the town’s landmark tower.
Recent inspections of the church has shown that there is real damage to the masonry and mortar, posing a growing threat to the tower. If not addressed in the next few years, this will lead to it being at severe risk.
The Mayor of Warwick, Stephen Cross, will be supporting the church’s 2018 fundraising campaign.
To help kick off the launch of the fundraising campaign, the mayor was given a tour of the bell ringing room, the bell chamber and clock mechanisms by Chris Mew, St Mary’s Church Bell Captain.
Cllr Cross was at one time a bell ringer in Castle Bromwich and had the chance to ring the bells at St Mary’s Church during the tour.
After a trial pull on the ropes the mayor has decided that, with a suitable “refresher”, he would like to join in with bell ringing once again to underline his support to the church and ensure that the restoration works to the tower mean that the bells of St Mary’s will continue to be rung.
A spokesperson from St Mary’s Church said: “The church is hugely grateful for the support of the mayor in this important and challenging year and to Leamington Music and Da Capo a cappella choir, who started the fundraising and awareness of the campaign in 2017 with two successful concerts. They raised between them £6,000 – a superb start towards the total needed.”
The Rev Vaughan Roberts, Vicar of St Mary’s, said: “When I visit people in and around the town it is clear that the tower of St Mary’s is iconic for many in our locality whether they ever go inside the church or not.
“It’s clearly an important part of Warwick’s history but is also a vital aspect of our present life too. St Mary’s tower not only symbolises over 1,000 years of civic life in this place but also exists as an ongoing sense of what happens within its shadow in our own time.
“We are very grateful to all who are helping to ensure it continues to stand for our past, present and future, and I’d urge all who love this architectural gem to join us in helping to secure its future.”
Warwick Mayor Stephen Cross said: “About 30 years ago my Girl Guide daughters were persuaded to undertake bell ringing training to win their campanology badge and I was ‘persuaded’ to join them.
“The outcome was that the bell ringers of the church of St Mary and St Margaret Castle Bromwich, permitted me to ring at a wedding, I must admit I was probably more nervous than the bride.
“So I have volunteered myself to be retrained by St Mary’s Bell Captain, Chris Mew, and get sponsorship to ring at an upcoming special occasion and help the tower fundraising.”