August celebration planned at Kelbrook church

Julie Davies and Christine Bullock who have helped with the refurbishments at St Mary's Church in Kelbrook after it nearly closed 18 months ago.

Julie Davies and Christine Bullock who have helped with the refurbishments at St Mary's Church in Kelbrook after it nearly closed 18 months ago.

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Generous spirits have saved the fortunes of a church on the verge of closure.

Eighteen months ago picturesque St Mary’s, Kelbrook, had just nine parishioners and faced mounting money worries, but help from financial benefactors and hours of unpaid hard graft have given it a new lease of life.

The church that only had a cold water tap now boasts a kitchen, toilets, a new roof and a resin path in the churchyard.

In celebration, the flag will be flying high when the parish holds a day-long celebration on Sunday, August 2nd.

A thanksgiving service, conducted by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, will be followed by a musical garden party with lunch, children’s games and afternoon tea.

The turn of fortune began after churchwarden Julie Davies wrote to former engineering firm boss Ted Fort, a long-time church helper whose late family rest in the churchyard.

Said Mrs Davies: “Mr Fort has supported us for a long time with the churchyard, so it was only right to tell him about what might happen. When I told him about our plight he came to see me and arranged to help us through the Fort Vale Trust.

“It was absolutely wonderful. He arranged for us to have regular garden maintenance and a new path.”

The good example galvanised others to help, paying for around £25,000 worth of improvements and repairs.

Donations arrived from Dennis Mendoros, of Euravia Engineering, the Towers family, who have family connections with the church, and through bequests.

“It has been phenomenal,” said Mrs Davies, who project managed the work.

“People have been so generous. Our local carpenter, Mick Conboy, has worked for hours and hours on the kitchen and toilets. Brian Newell drew up the plans and revised them time and again. We used a space that was once an old vestry and removed one pew at the back of the church, and sold it, and Brian tailored everything to fit.

“There has been wonderful goodwill all round – I can’t believe it has happened.

“It was all triggered off by getting in touch with Mr Fort.

“He wanted the church to continue and the path replacing. Hollin Hall Paving, from Trawden, did the work, and now it is a lovely walk to our door.”