A CHURCH at the heart of a Witney community is set for a complete overhaul after more than £130,000 was donated. Some of the funding was bequeathed in worshippers’ wills.
Holy Trinity Church in Woodgreen launched a £65,000 appeal last year to replace rotting floor beams which threatened to collapse the building.
More than £40,000 has been donated by trusts and parishioners, and the church has also had £92,000 gifted in the wills of two former churchgoers.
The church hopes to use the money to replace the electrics, heating, sound system, lighting and roof – as well as fixing the floor.
This Saturday, the church is hosting a fundraising concert from 7.30pm with folk musician and church neighbour Chris Gardener.
Church treasurer Kate Lockwood said: “It has been extraordinary.
“It was a huge project which we set off on with a certain amount of trepidation.
“We deliberately called it the 2013 appeal to focus our minds, but we had no idea how long it would take and I thought one year was a little bit ambitious.
“But we had a phenomenal response from a variety of people. People were putting £10 donations through the letterbox.
“It was coming in faster than I could bank it. One day I had to go to the bank twice, and then another cheque appeared before I went to bed.”
She added: “It speaks volumes about the Witney community. It is nice to know there is still a lovely community spirit and that people are willing to support it.
“In return I hope the building will be one they can consider their own and feel free to use.
“The dream is to create a warm, welcoming building that can be used for a variety of purposes.”
Mrs Lockwood said the donations mean work can start and the church can appoint architects.
Money has been donated by trusts and organsations, including £3,000 from the Witney Town Halls Charity, £2,000 from Blenheim Palace and a £5,000 pledge from Oxford Historic Churches Trust, as well as parishioners and members of the public.
An auction last year raised £3,500, with donated items including a bottle of House of Commons whisky signed by David Cameron and an England supporters’ shirt signed by Arsenal winger Theo Walcott, whose grandfather Joe Walcott is a former mayor of Carterton.
The two legacies, one for about £90,000 and another for £2,000, were given by former parishioners and were completely unexpected, Mrs Lockwood said.
She said the building’s lighting is in a poor state, people complain about not being able to hear the sound system, the electrics are ‘dodgy’ and the roof is on borrowed time. Half the roof – which has rusty nails holding the slats together – was replaced for £25,000 20 years ago.
The church is also investigating installing under-floor heating.
s Tickets to Saturday’s folk concert cost £7.50 and are available on the door. The event will include a licensed bar, donated by Wychwood Brewery.