Thursday, 3 February 2011

St John's Preservation Group Update - first for 2011

Plans approved by English Heritage and permission for the works granted. New ladders placed inside the tower so that access can be gained to tower roof, which we were pleased to be told is still watertight although in need of repair and the inside of the tower is apparently in reasonable condition. We now await a start date from the Lightning Conductor contractor. The Helita Pulsar Lightning Conductor will protect the whole of the building. The usual lightning conductor arrangement (as fitted before) only protects the tower and up to one third of the building.
Still awaiting some final confirmation regarding paperwork. We have raised the money, £16,000 which is held on reserve. Quotes now being obtained from three architects to decide who will be put in charge of the work. The chosen architect will draw up the schedule of works, appoint the contractors, oversee contracts, monitor the work and sign it off as satisfactory at the end.
Before carrying out this work we are looking at the DRAINS. English Heritage have given advice on this and quotes are now being obtained which will be taken to the St John's Church Steering Group on 8th February.
Chaired by the Archdeacon of Dudley, the Steering Group is comprised of representatives from The St John's Church Parochial Church Council (PCC), St John's Church Preservation Group, St Thomas's Ward Councillors, Diocese of Worcester, English Heritage and Dudley Council for Voluntary Service are now also represented. The Steering Group brings together all the interested parties for discussions to take place and actions to be agreed.
The Steering Group reconvened after a long break on 12th January. The next meeting is scheduled for 8th February.

We hope to arrange a very substantial event for this year at Remembrance time as it will be 11-11-11. To this end we have asked to renovate the Lychgate, which is a World War 1 Memorial (look up as you stand at the entrance you will see it engraved in the stone). This was discussed in Steering Group and quotes are being obtained from architects who would oversee the work, again drawing up a schedule of works, obtaining the contractors and overseeing the works to completion.
Once an architect has been agreed we can start getting some idea of renovation costs. Early indications are that the structure is not in too bad a condition. We have asked for redesign and re-making of the missing cross to be included. We hope that making it more obvious that this is a war memorial will also deter the graffitti writers.
As the Lychgate is part of the curtilage of St John's Church it is also Grade II listed along with the church building itself.
We are still waiting to find out what work the insurance company require to re-open the church building to the public. The Archdeacon Ven Fred Trethewey has now undertaken to deal with this and we hope for a report at the next Steering Group meeting on 8th February.
We are having further discussions about this in Steering Group - on the agenda for next meeting again. No further progress at present.
The final areas have now been cleared, and we would like volunteers to come forward to help with ground preparation ready for grass seeding. Much of the churchyard is now grassed over, heading us towards our ultimate goal of maintenance being largely strimming (as opposed to cutting through jungle as it was when we started in September 2008).

If anyone would like to donate grass seed we would be very grateful but most of all we need helpers. This will become crucial from about April when the growth starts again.
We continue to run the tombolas on Dudley market every Saturday, and the jumble sales at the drop in centre in St John's Road on Fridays 11-3pm. We have been very badly affected by the weather.
You can help us by donating:
Clothes, shoes, handbags, bedding, good quality bric a brac and toys
Tombola prizes especially bottles
Unwanted mobile telephones, used printer ink cartridges, gold jewellery
Please collect your loose change
If you can run a coffee morning, or do a whip round, or anything you can think of to raise funds, this will help us greatly. As you can see a lot of things are being put in place ready for work to start, and once it does our need for funds will rise dramatically and quickly, so we are still trying to raise as much as we can so that we have some funds ready. We know these funds will soon be swallowed up so please keep fundraising and donating.
We have raised so far: £16,000 (on reserve) ready for the waterproofing works. £5000 (grant from DMBC) for the Lightning Conductor, £3000 (our proportion of the feasibility study costs - £7,000 raised by Diocese of Worcester).
We are now fundraising for: Drain repairs (costs to be confirmed) Renovation of Lychgate (costs to be confirmed) Re-opening the building (costs to be confirmed). We hope to have some more figures for our next bulletin.
We would like to look at providing sacks of industrial rags . Does anyone know who might be interested in buying these from us? We would be very competitive in price and quality and all funds raised would be for St John's Church Preservation Group.
Chris is still working on this, estimated time to publication around two months. It is not too late for interesting stories to be included - so if you have a 'Tale to Tell' about anyone buried at St John's please get in touch.
Meanwhile Volume 1 remains on sale:
On our stall on Dudley Market on Saturdays
In Tiwana, High View Street, Kates Hill
In our drop in centre, The Old School House, St John's Road, DY2 7JT
In the Black Country Bugle Shop, High Street, Cradley Heath
In the bookstore, Black Country Living Museum
On reception at the Quality Hotel (Ward Arms), Dudley (ask for Vickie)
At Dudley Archive, Coseley
Was an incredible event with families from 6 of the 11 Commonwealth Graves represented. Around 60 people attended and with standards from the Ex Servicemens Club, Dudley, 7th Dudley Scouts and the Military Police.

A specially made poppy cross was placed on each grave, beautifully made by Mandy Millward Sloan. Wreaths were laid by family members and also representatives from The Ex-Servicemens Club, Dudley, The Military Police, St John's Church Preservation Group, 7th Dudley Scouts, Dudley MBC, and Jeff Jewkes former Deputy Mayor of Dudley who has family buried at St John's.
The Last Post and Reveille were played on the bugle by Tony Timmins of the Ex Servicemens Club (also treasurer, St John's Church Preservation Group).
We also established an incorrect name on a grave from this event - family informed us that Simon Harry Evans is actually Simeon Harry Evans and we have informed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and asked for advice on how to get the grave corrected.
Facebook photo album here (click on the first to enlarge then go through)
A souvenir leaflet was written, produced and printed by author Chris Smith who is also editor of VILLAGE VOICE magazine and grateful thanks to Chris and Gail for their continued support.
World famous Rugby player (played for Great Britain 30 times)
Cliff now lives in Australia but recently returned to the UK and visited St John's on 28th October 2010 where he has family buried, and where he was married to Barbara (50 years ago) and where two of his three daughters were christened.
Cliff has pledged to help us raise the profile of our quest to Save St John's, and we in turn believe strongly that Cliff is an unsung sporting hero of Dudley who should be honoured in some meaningful and lasting way.
We are in talks with Dudley Kingswinford Rugby Football Club and Cliff's nephew David (a St John's Church Preservation Group member) will be assisting. We are working on objectives and we are gathering a team together to take this forward. If you would like to be involved please get in touch.
As part of this process we also hope to raise the profile of the game of Rugby in Dudley, and see if St John's Parish can produce 'another Cliff Watson'.
Facebook album of the visit here (click on the first to enlarge then go through)
Following the great success of our 15 minute play of the Life of the Tipton Slasher scripted by Chris Smith, the cast were invited to perform again in Tipton Library and so the cast reconvened, hasty relearning of parts and then an amazing three performances in three hours. Another triumph, and lead actor Tal E Shaanti IS now the Tipton Slasher and has been recognised in the street! Thank you to the whole team. The three performances were followed by a cast party (fish and chips and cakes!) very kindly sponsored by Robert Hazel, Manager of Tipton Library.

Picture album here - click on the first to enlarge then go through
Director Phill Liptrot has offered to help us reprise the St John's Church drama group which was called 'The Johnians' named after St John and also the founder of the group John Freeman.
The drama group will come back to life as THE NEW JOHNIANS and the first meeting is THIS FRIDAY 4TH FEBRUARY at 7pm, in our drop in centre, St John's Road, Kates Hill, Dudley, DY2 7JRT. If you would like to act, make costumes, props or simply make the tea, please come along and join in. Phill is an excellent director and if you are new to acting you will receive plenty of guidance. There is no fee to join this drama group and all funds raised from performances will go to St John's Church Preservation Group.

First Friday in the month so THIS FRIDAY 4th February 6-7pm, no appointment necessary.

Our weekly jumble sale is on FRIDAYS in the drop in from 11am to 3pm. Free admission, teas and coffees also available. Have a go on our tombola while you're here.

To all our supporters and volunteers, "Working Together To Save St John's Church" - so many people have helped, some a little, some a lot and we are getting there, bit by bit....and if you have any doubt go for a walk around the churchyard -now almost totally CLEARED and so many newly tended graves and fresh flowers everywhere you look shows that people are COMING BACK - what is needed now is for the church doors to be open as well.

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