St. Martin’s Restoration Project
Progress Report No 2: 11/2/16
Since our last report to the Parish, significant progress has been made. The most important step has been the selection of a main contractor to carry out the necessary restoration work to the West frontage of the Church together with repairs to the tower to make it fully weatherproof.
Our architect drew up a 70-page specification of the work required and four contractors submitted bids to carry out the work. Two were quickly ruled out on grounds of cost. Our Quantity Surveyor (QS) then analysed the other two in detail and entered into a dialogue with them to ensure that all their estimates were accurate. This process resulted in the QS declaring both bids to be realistic and acceptable.
Since B W May of Sittingbourne was somewhat the cheaper of the two bids, the Committee investigated B W May from the point of view of their financial stability and their performance on other similar church restoration projects. The most telling comment was from a church that had used B W May for one project and was very satisfied to the point that they were planning to use them again for some subsequent work. Accordingly B W May was recommended by the Committee and the PCC accepted this suggestion.
There then followed some intensive activity by the Committee to fill in all the forms required by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), both to report on the completion of the planning stage of the project and to apply for the £247,000 to allow the actual work to be undertaken. The current situation is that HLF have received our Phase 2 application, which is being scrutinised right now by Historic England to ensure that we restore our fabric properly by using the correct materials. The planning stage completion report has also been submitted.
The HLF has indicated that they will consider our Phase 2 grant application on 12th April. Please join us in praying very hard that this will be successful.
Meanwhile, two of our applications for funding from other sources have borne fruit. A private charity has donated £500, whilst ‘Friends of Kent Churches’ has sent us a cheque for £10,000! In both cases, this money has to be used for repairs to the fabric of our building so the money is not a short cut to a new toilet but it will allow more flexibility in how we tackle the ongoing restoration work.
On the subject of the new toilet, the Diocese has agreed in writing that the work can be done without a faculty requiring an incumbent’s signature, and we have had detailed plans prepared that have been submitted to Canterbury. We hope that this will lead to permission being given for the work to go ahead. We will then have to find the £15,000 that the new flush toilet is likely to cost. Several grant applications for this purpose are being considered currently by donors, so further earnest prayers are required.
Meanwhile, considerable progress has been made in planning a programme of Outreach activities for 2016. These are required by the HLF and keenly supported by ourselves.
We have agreed on three main events: The first is a photographic competition that the Herne Bay Photographic Club is organising for us. The subject will be St Martin’s and there will be classes for each school Key Stage age group, plus one for adults. Entries will be displayed in Church and a professional judge will be engaged to select the winners. This will take place on the afternoon of 3rd July, our Patronal Festival.
The major event will take place over the weekend of 16/17th July, and will be called the ‘Herne Community Festival’. This will be an opportunity for St. Martin’s to act as host for as many local groups and organisations as possible to set up stall in or around our Church to publicise themselves and to entertain our visitors. Already over a dozen participants have agreed to take part and we hope for more. The Sheriff of Canterbury, Cllr. Robert Jones has agreed to open proceedings, and we hope that he will be joined by Bishop Trevor, thus emphasising the link between Church, State and People.
On the Saturday, the groups and organisations attending will be able to display their activities in as entertaining a manner as possible whilst the emphasis on Sunday will be on performance with contributions from the Kent Coastal Band (we hope!), a local dance troupe, plus the Living Lively singing group that rehearse in the Institute Hall. The Scouts will be running a BBQ, the local micro brewery are preparing a special brew for the occasion called ‘Good Samaritan’ and the weekend will conclude with community singing in the style of the ‘Last Night of the Proms’.
Finally, on 16th September, we plan to mark the centenary of the death of Capt. William Charles Woollett who was killed during the final stages of the Battle of the Somme during WW1. There will be a talk in the morning describing the events of the time and we hope the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will describe their work. This will be attended by the 90 Year 6 children from Herne Juniors plus any others who wish to join them.
In the afternoon, Estella is planning to hold a service of commemoration, similar to that held in honour of Harry Wells VC last year. This will be attended by the British Legion and we hope that a representative from his regiment might also be there, plus we have tracked down two members of the Woollett family who are keen to join us.
Herne Junior School has given all these events their enthusiastic support and we hope, with widespread publicity, that many others from the community will join them.
As time draws nearer, there will be a great many tasks that will need to be tackled. If everyone lends a hand, then we can make a success of this venture and help to place St. Martin’s at the very heart of our community, a position it must have occupied when it was first built.
The Restoration Committee, Nigel Newton, Susan and Keith Record, John Bennett