Sunday, 24 January 2010


Members of St John's Church Preservation Group aiming to save and restore the historic Grade II listed St John's Church, Kates Hill are panicking as the harsh weather has stalled fundraising efforts and cost the group valuable fundraising time and money.

The group have until just 31st March to raise the £10,000 needed to start the essential feasibility study "The Future For St John's Church" which will identify financially sustainable future use for the building, and also vitally whether there is sufficient local demand to re-open the building for worship. The result of the feasibility study will also drive the future business plan, without which the group cannot apply to major funds such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Lichfield based award winning architects Brownhill Hayward Brown - the company which oversaw the magnificent rebirth of Bilston Town Hall, plus works at Trentham Gardens and Walsall Arboretum, have been selected to carry out the study, which will look at not only possible building adaptations, including heating, toilets, kitchen and disabled access but also environmental considerations, future management and funding of the church building and graveyard and extensive community consultation.

Deb Brownlee chair of St John's Church Preservation Group "We went through a long process before we eventually decided that Brownhill Hayward Brown are the organisation we want to work with and quite frankly they are such a talented company and will bring such expertise and knowledge to the table that we cannot wait to work with them and get things moving along. We have promised to have the funds in place by the end of March but this weather has stopped most of our fundraising right in its tracks".

"We've called off a Christmas event and our traditional January Variety Night so far and these two alone have cost us at least £1000. In addition to this we have seen a drop in visitors to our regular Saturday market stall over the last few weeks as people have transport difficulties or stay at home to avoid the risk of having a fall. So far we haven't arranged anything for February either - the weather is just too severe and seems to be lingering on forever".

The group have also been thwarted in their efforts to set up a planned team of volunteer outreach workers to assist with local fundraising - candidates have been unable to attend interviews and it is too dangerous underfoot to start the proposed local canvassing campaign.

The Preservation Group are now asking supporters to find other ways to help them raise the £10,000 necessary to start the feasibility study on time.

Deb Brownlee "Perhaps our supporters could run a coffee morning at home or have a family whip round - both of these have been done and raised excellent funds. One gent asked for donations to our appeal in lieu of Birthday gifts and again this provided a valuable addition to funds. Some people have sold items on e-bay and donated the money to us. And as always we are asking people to collect their loose change - a simple but effective way of raising surprising amounts of money - we've had about £500 in so far from loose change collections and every penny counts".

Professor Carl Chinn, patron of St John's Church Preservation Group "We have within our grasp the historic opportunity to restore and re-open this iconic Black Country Church. I urge people to throw their weight behind the St John's Church Preservation Group and help them to overcome this period of difficulty and keep the fundraising efforts going."

Members of the Preservation Group can be found on Dudley Market every Saturday, or donations can be sent to St John’s Church Preservation Group, The Old School House, St John’s Road, Dudley, DY2 7JT.

The group are currently seeking to raise £16,000 for essential waterproofing works (around £8000 raised towards this), up to £15,000 for the feasibility study and £5000 to replace the lightning conductor. It is expected to cost around £150-£200,000 to get the building re-opened and a further £700,000 over ten to twenty years for total restoration.

More information about the work of the Preservation Group can be found on

or on facebook group Save St John's Church, Kates Hill, Dudley.

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