Bulletin No 25

Happy New Year – and what an exciting year it’s going to be!

We are on the last leg of the rebuilding and as you will have seen, the clear glass windows have been completed, and the new extensions are looking fantastic!

We are beginning to make decisions about finishes now and the last elements of permissions are with the DAC (the Diocesan body that approves any changes to churches) and we are awaiting the go ahead before ordering the furniture that people have been so generous in providing donations for.

The lights are in, and the first “picture” window – the new glass gable with its etched cross and symbols (see above) – is in place. And the cross is back on top of the tower – what a good day that was!

So it’s moving steadily forward towards an opening in April. We may miss Easter, but I’d rather it was not rushed at this stage … as I’m sure you would.

The only things that might be left to do after Croft complete their work are the installation of the bells and the final stained glass window, but that all depends on other factors we have no control over … we’ll keep you informed.

However, there is even more exciting news! With the re-opening of the church, with all its new facilities, I have been pressing the Diocese to take the opportunity to appoint someone to move into the Vicarage and start a new ministry among us – and although it’s taken 18 months of waiting and asking, they have agreed. So, the Bishop has asked me to oversee the training of a curate, which is like a vicar-apprentice, who will move into the vicarage in readiness for her ordination in June, and work among us for the next 3 years.

Her name is Vikki Bisiker, and she and her husband (Mick) will be moving here from Napton. They have 2 children (Tom and Emma)and a VW Beetle called Gigi. Vikki has worked as a trainee legal executive for several years before running her own entertainment company providing mediaeval banquets and murder mystery evenings, worked for CPAS developing their Falcon Camps, and some of you may well know her from the monthly informal service she and Mick run at Napton.

I shall still be around, but maybe more in the background as Vikki’s ministry grows. She is extremely capable and delightful, and I am sure it won’t be long before she is very much at home in our village community.

In the meantime, keep praying, keep encouraging the team, and keep looking forward to the day the church is handed back to us for us to use and enjoy for many years to come.

Martin

Bulletin No 23

Dear friends,

Many of you will have wandered down the track to look at the crane, and watched as it lifted the first of the roof beams across the churchyard. By the time you read this, there will be an even bigger crane in position to tackle the main beam for the nave … it is huge !!

It is so exciting to see the progress, and once it’s safe to do so, we are planning to have another open day when people can come and see it at close hand. The workmanship really is excellent. I’ll send the date round once the contractor has indicated when we might be able to do this.

Many people have also been asking about making a donation towards something for the new church, and I have prepared a list of things needed and you can read this in the next post or download it here.

If you would like to buy an item, or make a donation towards an item, please could you complete the slip at the bottom of the Bulletin (which can be downloaded here), and send it to:

Mrs Helen Robertson, 40 The Greswoldes, Radford Semele, CV31 1TP

Please include a cheque made payable to “St Nicholas Restoration Fund”

… and if you are able to Gift Aid your donation, the tax reclaimed can go towards items remaining at the end.

Please see the post below about buying a chair for the new church because some of you have been asking about buying a chair in memory of a loved one. There is a local engraver who has agreed to make small brass plaques and so if you would like to take advantage of this, please fill in the separate sheet and send it to Helen with all the details.

These are limited, as plaques can only be fitted to the wooden framed chairs, and we are planning to buy 62 of these.

I will also be putting this on the website and we shall try and keep that updated with how the list is going.

And may I also say a huge thank you to those who have made such generous donations already … we are so grateful, and it has been very moving to be on the receiving end of such warm support. A special word of thanks goes to those who organised and took part in the excellent Gnome Olympics. Thank you, and well done.

With warmest wishes

Rev Martin Green

01926 613466

Bulletin No 21

Dear friends,

It is now almost exactly 4 years since the fire, and this is news you have all been waiting for !

I am delighted to tell you that we have today been able to issue a letter of intent, appointing a contractor to start work on the church.

The tenders that came back in January were all above the budget set, and so we have had an interesting time, reducing costs and altering the specifications. As a result we have omitted a number of items that can be added back into the job at a later date, should we be able to make further savings or find extra funding.

But the good news is that work will begin, and the contractor is being invited to start work on April 16th – once the Easter break is over.

I can’t begin to tell you what a relief this is – it has been such a struggle to get over the various hurdles that have been put in our way, and I am sure that once work begins, and the church begins to take shape, there will be a growing excitement and anticipation around the village.

The appointed contractor is Croft Building & Conservation, based in Cannock, who are just completing a major work on Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. They have great experience in restoring heritage buildings and have worked with some members of our design team already. We are very confident that they will produce some top quality work for us, and we are really looking forward to them arriving on site.

It seems appropriate that they arrive just after Easter – a time in the Church’s year of celebrating new life and hope. It’s a time of emerging and discovery, a time when the pain and confusion of the cross is replaced by the healing and clarity of resurrection. It’s when new life takes shape, and the construction work at the church can be modelled in our own lives of faith. So please do feel free to join us in our Easter celebrations, and please continue to pray for the work of restoration in our church and village.

Easter Services
April 1st : 10.00am Palm Sunday Quality Time
A short service for all the family to celebrate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem

April 6th : 10.00am Good Friday Family Service
A service to remember the events of the first Good Friday, followed by Hot Cross Buns ! (For those who want to trek across to Bishops Itchington after this, The Pilgrim Puppets are at St Michael’s church at 11.00am too)

April 8th : 9.30am Easter Day Celebration

April 29th : 4.00pm Village Songs of Praise

ALL WELCOME !

Bulletin No 20

December 6th : Well, it’s St Nicholas Day, and we have an early Christmas present !

An email has arrived today from the Chancellor of the Diocese granting us the Faculty we need to start the restoration work ! It carries some further directions and qualifications, but we can at long last look forward to work starting early in the new year.

I can’t express the relief I feel that at last we can begin to move forward, and please may I say another “thank-you” to all who have helped to get us this far, and for the community’s patience. It feels we have turned a huge corner today.

What a lovely touch too that it comes on our St Nicholas’ Day, remembering an ancient Bishop who is best known for his unexpected gifts to those in need around him.

I saw an extraordinary advert recently ! It was for Disneyland Paris, and the suggestion was that a trip there would make an ideal Christmas present. I couldn’t quite believe it, not because Disneyland isn’t a fun place to go (unless you hate queuing and it’s in France in December!), but because we are already being told that this Christmas is going to be a miserable one due of the recession.

We have heard people bewailing the fact that they won’t be able to afford to get the children what they want (or what they expect) this year, and see retailers in permanent sale mode.

So the suggestion of a holiday at Disneyland as an ideal gift is perhaps a little odd. In fact it’s the first time I think I’ve ever seen a holiday being suggested as a Christmas present. Maybe it’s an attempt to suggest to people that it really isn’t that bad, and all this talk about recession is over-dramatised. I wonder how long the advert will run …

The statements above remind us of what Christmas has become for many people – a chance to spend a lot of money. That’s why we seem to be being prepared for lots of disappointment from families who didn’t get what they want, and from retailers who found people didn’t shop until they dropped.

It’s true that part of Christmas is about celebrating with families and exchanging gifts. After all, there were angelic celebrations the night Jesus was born, and the wise men brought him valuable gifts …

But an important part of our Christmas celebration is who Jesus was and why Jesus came. The carols we sing are full of this wonderful news.

Our celebrations are not just about seeing family, buying presents, eating well, and watching James Bond – though all these things are great fun ! Christmas is about celebrating the birth of the one person who can really make a difference in our lives – clearing away the rubbish that lies there, and giving us a fresh start.

Why ? Simply because God loves you.

May I wish you a very happy Christmas, and a new year filled with hope and new beginnings.

Rev Martin Green

Bulletin No 18

Dear Friends

THANK YOU !

First may I thank you all so much for the support you have given for the Out of the Blue Festival last month. It looks at the moment as if we have topped £9,300 towards the Restoration Project as a result of the week weekend, but more importantly, it was great fun to gather together as a wider community for a weekend of great events! Even sitting in a chair getting wet sponges thrown at me did not dampen the warm and positive atmosphere of the Saturday afternoon, with the schools’ performances, the puppets and the many and vaired activities that made up that Family Fun afternoon.

The Friday evening with Adrian Plass had us rolling with laughter and the Saturday evening was a concert with high quality, uplifting music. Sunday’s service drew over 200 people from around the area to enjoy the puppets and the Bishop, and a few stayed afterwards to enjoy a picnic.

All in the all, it was a great success, and people are already asking whether we can do it again !

May I say a personal thank you to all those who participated in any way, especially to the small team of people who helped oragnise it. But most of all to Chris and Avril and the team at the Exhibition Centre who gave us the weekend to use, and who worked so patiently and helpfully with us throughout the weekend. We are extremely grateful to them – and what a great venue it is, right on our doorstep!

Plans with Coventry Diocese
You will also be delighted to know that we have finally been able to submit all the detailed plans to the Church authorities in Coventry for final approval. They meet in July to discuss the plans, and we hope to have a decision from them fairly quickly. Once the formal approval is received, we will have to display it at the church for 28 days, and then the plans will be put out to tender to various heritage-approved contractors. And then … then we will get a contractor on site !!!

I know it has been a long haul, and thank you for your patience, but we are nearly there in terms of getting the work actually started. As there is a year’s worth of building to be done, I am pressing the Church authorities to move swiftly so we can get started, with an aim to have it open for Christmas 2012. I am hoping they take this on board, and that nothing else holds us up.

Church Open Day: August 13th (12-4pm)
The final piece of news is that before the contractors arrive, we will have an open day at the church. Earlier this month, we took years 5/6 from the school into the church room, showing them what was left and then looking inside the ruined church. It occurred to us that hardly anyone in the village will have been able to do this. So we will aim to open the church and church room on Saturday August 13th from 12:00-4:00pm, lay out some of the items that have been salvaged for people to look at, and then offer brief and helmet-ed trips into the building. It might be a good way to raise a little more towards the Restoration Fund, so we may have a small entrance charge, but I hope that won’t put anyone off coming.

Bulletin No 17

Dear Friends

At last, some good news !

At the end of January, we heard that we have been granted planning permission – so we can at last go ahead to the next stage of preparing the tenders. The delay awaiting this decision will mean that our projected start date is put back, but we are still hopeful that we might be able to get contractors on site later this year, if we have no more delays.

The building team have now met with all the design consultants again to start this detailed preparation process, and we are keeping in close touch with the Diocesan authorities who will be giving the final official permissions, called a Faculty, so that our work dovetails with their meeting schedule. Please keep praying that this process goes smoothly. We want to get the contractors here as soon as possible now.

In the meantime, some of you may have heard about a fund-raising Out of the Blue “festival” being organised this summer at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre on the Fosse Way on June 17th-19th. An exciting programme is taking shape for the weekend, and the Saturday afternoon is planned to be a family fun event ! We are hoping to have all kinds of sideshows and games and activities that we can all enjoy, and raise some money for the restoration project while having lots of fun !

We already have the Warwickshire Archer and some creative art workshops booked, and the delight of cream teas, but we need lots of sideshow games and activities. So if you would like to be involved and could offer to provide and run a simple activity, please get in touch by returning the slip at the bottom of this bulletin. And if you aren’t able to be involved, do book the dates and come along. The weekend is a gift from the Exhibition Centre to help us raise money for the church project, so let’s make the most of it.

And finally, a reminder for the forthcoming concert :

At ST. MARKS CHURCH, Rugby Rd, Milverton, Leamington Spa
Friday 18th March @ 7.30pm
Presented by RUGBY SCHOOL, THE ARNOLD SINGERS

It will be a memorable evening of fantastic and varied music that will move and enchant you.

Tickets now available £11, £10 conc, £5 under 16
from: Don Simpson (01926 426652) or the Post Office, Radford Semele

All proceeds will go to St. Nicholas Church Restoration Fund

Bulletin No 15

Dear Friends

At last we have some more good news.

The DAC, which is the church of England’s body that oversees the care of church buildings, has given their formal approval for the plans we presented to you to go forward. This is the church’s equivalent of planning permission, and they are very happy with the plans so far. We will have to get their continued permission as the interior detail develops, but this is an important step forward.

We are still awaiting the decision form the local planning authority, but as soon as that is granted, we can at last begin to develop the detailed plans for the church. It has taken such a long time, and I think none of us anticipated this process being quite so drawn out, but each stage we reach appears to have its own timescale to it and we have no control over how long that is to be. But we are getting there !

So in the meantime, let me tell you of some fund-raising activities, with the emphasis on fun :

Quiz Night & Fun Food Auction
Radford Semele Bell Ringers invite you to a Quiz Night & Fun Food Auction on Saturday 20th November 2010 (7.00 for 7.30 start), in the Community Hall, Lewis Road, Radford Semele. Tickets £5 per person in advance – bring a team or get a team together on the night. Tickets available from Claire (01926 886408) or Fiona (01926 425442). Come with a plate (or 2!) of food to be auctioned! Drinks & a Raffle!

Christmas cards
christmas cardsWe have produced some Christmas Cards to be sold in aid of the restoration project. There are 3 beautiful designs, and they will be sold in packs of 6 cards (2 of each design) at £4 a pack. They will be sold in various places in the village – the Radford Rendezvous coffee mornings, church, post office, RED hair stylists, store and directly from Helen Robertson (01926 339978)

Please consider supporting us by sending out these Christmas cards this year.

Classical Guitar Recital
We are delighted to tell you that Ray Burley, the internationally renowned classical guitarist will be giving a classical guitar recital on Saturday Feb 5th at St Michael’s Bishops Itchington. Tickets will cost £12 (£10 concessions) and are available from Rev Martin Green (01926 613466).

This will be a stunningly good evening, so make sure you come along and bring friends! Tickets are already going, so buy yours early … we have limited numbers.

That’s all for now, but watch out for more events as they come …

With best wishes,
Rev Martin Green

Bulletin No 14

Dear friends,

We have some good news !

The Planning Application has been submitted at last … Since the village meeting in January at which the Architects presented their plans and model for the restoration of the church and despite the church being “under wraps”, much has been happening.

It has taken some time to get the detail right, but it was agreed at a meeting on July 15th to go ahead and present the plans to the planning authority and the Diocesan Advisory Committee. Both these bodies are crucial in the progress of the project, and we have kept them informed with details of how it is all developing, so hopefully their decision should not take too long.

Once permission is granted, the project will be drawn up in minute detail and costed ready for putting out to tender. So we have taken a big step in moving on to the next stage of this, and are praying that nothing will hold up the process.

Fundraising

May I also take this opportunity to turn your attention towards our fund-raising efforts. As you are aware from previous Bulletins, the insurance company will pay a large part of the re-build cost but in order to create facilities within the church for both present and future generations, a further £90,000 is needed to install toilets, a kitchen and an office as well as providing facilities for wider community use.

We are encouraging anyone who would like to run a fund-raising event, whatever that might be, to simply have a go.

We have already had some excellent events – the Village Voices concert, a poetry evening, a few metal-detecting afternoons, and a talk about hearing difficulties have help raise over £3,000 so far – a magnificent sum.

Our fundraising total now stands at over £14,000.

So if you want to hold or help run an event to raise funds for the restoration project, or to make a donation, please contact James Fleuty (883708) or Don Simpson (426652).

Donations can also be made via the website www.stnicholasrestoration.com

Rev Martin Green

Bulletin No 13

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all those who came to the village presentation last month – the Community Hall was full and people seemed both interested and excited by the plans. The picture here shows the architect’s model of the new design for the North side of the church (the South side will look largely the same as before) with its new gables and extensions. We are currently exploring the heating options, still with a view to having an environmentally friendly system if we can, and the drainage system. Do have a look on the website, where we have put the ground plan, and more pictures of the new church model from different aspects.

Fund-raising
A small fund-raising team has now met and there are some exciting plans for various events and initiatives, including metal-detecting in local farmland (the first of which has already raised £240) and a concert in May by the Village Voices choir. We are also planning to make opportunities for people to make a donation for specific items in the church – more of that in due course. If you have any ideas for an event or fund-raising activity, please get in touch with Don Simpson. He is coordinating all these initiatives so that we don’t have things that clash. His number is: 01926 426652

So here’s a date for your diary – Saturday May 15th : Community Hall, The Village Voices Concert. More details will follow in due course.

If anyone would like to make a donation to the Restoration Fund, now that we have a target, this can be done too by making a cheque payable to “St Nicholas Restoration Fund” and giving it to a church member, or sending it to me by post (1 Manor Rd, Bishops Itchington, Warks, CV47 2QJ).

Budget Target
As you know from previous bulletins, we are looking at a budget shortfall of around £90,000. However, we may also have to face a VAT bill of unknown size on top of this. At the moment, the government has a scheme by which VAT can be reclaimed for work on heritage buildings (of which the church is one). Sadly this scheme is due to end in March 2011, and although there are some strong lobbies at the moment, there is no indication of whether this scheme will be extended or renewed, or not. Last week the General Synod of the Church of England put in a strong plea to extend the scheme, and I have written to both Bishops, urging them to add their weight to the lobby.

If you want to write to the local MP to encourage the extension of the scheme, that would help enormously. Until we know what is happening with this question, we will not know the extent of any extra amount we might have to find in addition to the £90,000 we know about.

Timing
I have just delivered the first of many Faculty applications to the Diocese – these are requests for permission from the church’s planning authority for work on the building. We need to have permission at each stage, and it will inevitably slow the process a little, but in keeping the Diocesan authorities up to speed with developments, we hope to minimise any loss of time. For those who missed the village meeting, the expected timescale for rebuilding is that, with a year’s worth of physical building work, we are aiming at an opening of the new church in July 2012. That means this year will be spent setting the plans, getting all the permissions in place and raising the extra funding needed. There is much to do, but we can do it if we work together.

Rev Martin Green

Bulletin No 11

I am at last delighted to be able to write with some good news. After months of apparent inactivity and negotiation, I am able to tell you that the Insurance Company have finally agreed a settlement of just over £2m for the rebuilding of the church. This means that we can set a budget at last and begin the process of detailed plans and applications for permission.

We have already had to spend nearly £300,000 of this on the first stage of the project, making the church ruin secure and covered, and you will have seen that the tower covers have been replaced again.

I also know that some of you have been waiting until this point to know how much extra we have to raise before making a donation to the Restoration Fund. We have instructed our architects to work within a budget of £2.2m, which will mean that we are able to add a small extension behind the tower for much needed toilet facilities, and another at the East end behind the vestry to provide an office. This brings the facilities currently divided between church, church room and Vicarage shed, into one place.

This leaves us with £160,000 to find; we have already accumulated about £70,000, so we have an overall target of around £90,000 to raise. Until construction starts and we have bills to pay, we plan to invest most of the cash payment received with the insurance settlement, and expect that the interest this investment earns will make a useful contribution to the target.

So what’s next ?

The first thing is that I am trying to arrange a village meeting, when the architects can come and present the outline plan to you and answer any questions you might have. The PCC has already approved this outline design, as have English Heritage and the Diocesan Advisory Committee, but this has all been conditional on budget. Now that we have a basic budget to work with, we know what is feasible, and therefore can invite you to come and see what is proposed within those limitations.

The second thing is to press on with obtaining permissions from the various statutory bodies as the plans we have are made more detailed and specific. This could take time, but is essential.

While this is going on, we also need to set about raising our target figure of £90,000. We plan to set up a fund-raising group who can mastermind various events and activities, so if you would like to be part of this, or have any fund-raising schemes and ideas, please do get in touch with Don Simpson (426652) . I am hoping that this process will actually be quite fun, as it will mean doing things together as a community, and then celebrating the end result together.

So I am delighted that we are moving into this next stage of the process – it has taken a long time, but we hope to make faster progress from now on.

Thank you again for your patience and support – we will get there !

Rev Martin Green