A GROUP raising money to restore Uttoxeter’s oldest building to its former glory has hit its latest financial target - taking the total raised to £341,000 in 14 years.
Friends of St Mary’s Parish Church, Uttoxeter’s main place of worship since 1342, will spend the £40,000 it has raised through its latest round of fund-raising on painting the entire building.
The last work funded by the Friends was repairs to the church spire, which cost around £28,000, in 2010.
Before then, the group had collated cash to install new central heating for the church, bell tower and vestry, refurbish the kitchen and toilets, install security lights, replace church yard doors and gates and restore the church tower.
Friends founder member Jonathan Marvin said: “The church had been neglected for quite some time before we started the Friends in 2000.
“Since it’s the main church in Uttoxeter and also holds concerts, remembrance services, we want to ensure the building is fit to be a spiritual place of worship and a welcoming community venue.
“By having a clean, light atmosphere, it certainly brings people in and sends out the message that we’re very much open for business and worship.
“It’s not really a new idea. If you go back to the middle ages, churches were at the centre of the community and often hosted events like markets and fairs.”
The Friends’ most recent fund-raising drive to cover the costs of re-painting the building started around three years ago.
Bosses at St Mary’s are also poised to install new lighting, which will radiate from the floor to the ceiling to create an ‘atmospheric’ effect.
Mr Marvin said: “The painting and decor in the church is very tired and it hasn’t been replaced since the early 1980s.
“When the work’s done and the lights have been installed, the church will be a very restful and tranquil place.”
The cash has been raised through a series of luncheons and coffee mornings and other events including a valuation day with Hanson’s Auctioneers.
St Mary’s Entertainers also contributed through proceeds from its annual production in November.
The total raised by the amateur dramatics group has now reached £17,000 in the last decade.
Mr Marvin said: “People are incredibly generous to us and the church would really like to thank those that have helped over the years.
“It’s all down to their generosity really. Without them, there’d be no church at all.”