PRESERVATION GROUP FACES FUNDING CRISIS –
PROFESSOR CARL CHINN CALLS ON LOCAL PEOPLE TO HELP
Members of the St John's Church Preservation Group are
appealing to their members and supporters to put extra effort
into fundraising to save the historic grade II listed historic
Kates Hill St John’s Church building following a massive
dip in donations.
Deb Brownlee Chair of the Preservation Group "We
have the real potential to achieve what seemed impossible
and save this piece of Dudley heritage. St John's was closed
down in 2002 on safety grounds and was deemed at the time
to be of no architectural or historic interest. Demolition
was a real possibility. The church is now a listed building
and further surveys have shown it to be both safe and repairable.
We are now working with the church authorities to find a
future for the building, which could well include re-opening
it as a church. However, we are staring a pyrrhic victory
in the face as the church leaders are at the table with
us but we haven't as yet produced the funds we said would
be provided by our supporters."
The Preservation Group has experienced a dramatic down
turn in donations since the Grade II listing was announced
in May, as supporters perceive that the building is now
saved and that support is no longer needed. Listed status
does not bring any automatic funds neither does it provide
total protection against demolition.
Deb Brownlee "Everyone
seems to think that the St John's is already saved. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Listed status helps us
to prove that the building is worthy of preservation but
getting the building listed is only the first step on a
very long journey. We currently we need £15000 for
an essential feasibility study using specialist church conservation
and conversion architects and for community consultation.
We need to be able to instruct these specialist consultants
as soon as possible so that we can get the ball rolling
but we don’t have the funds in place. The feasibility
study is needed to convince the church authorities that
the building should be re-opened and to be able to apply
for Heritage Lottery funding. We also need £16000
for the urgent waterproofing works and £5000 to replace
the lightning conductor both of which will protect the building
against further damage. There is no absolute guarantee with
so much competition that we will get lottery funding and
at the end of the day as we always expected it will be largely
up to our supporters to show that they really do care about
St John's Church and to help us raise the money.”
Patron of the group Professor Carl Chinn has backed the
call for more help. Professor Chinn, "I
am sure that the people of the Black Country will support
the St John's Preservation Group in its aim to bring this
historic church back into full use. Even in these hard times
I feel certain that the folk of this region will find innovative
and dynamic ways to raise the funds that are needed.”
The Preservation Group are calling on supporters to attend
Preservation Group fundraising events and also to organise
events on their behalf, and to involve their companies,
schools and social clubs. Supporters are also asked to send
donations, collect their loose change, set up weekly standing
orders and consider legacy giving.
• Local Historian and author Ned Williams will be
supporting Preservation Group members on Saturday 22nd August
at an information stall on Dudley Market, where leaflets
and information will be provided and donations can be made.
Ned Williams’ most recent publication ‘Dudley
Rediscovered’ which features Kates Hill and the campaign
to Save St John’s Church will also be on sale. Local
War Veteran and first manager of the Churchill Precinct
Mick Coyle, winner of the Frank Foley Award for community
work will also be supporting the Dudley Market St John’s
Church Preservation Group information event.
Donations can be sent to St John’s Church Preservation
Group, The Old School House, St John’s Road, Kates
Hill, Dudley, DY2 7JT. Further information about the work
and how to donate and help can be obtained on the Preservation
SHOW TO HELP RESCUE THE CHURCH WHERE HE WAS MARRIED 50 YEARS AGO
Black Country Comedian Aynuk has organised ‘Aynuk’s
Black Country Show’ on behalf of St John’s Church
Preservation Group in an effort to raise vitally needed funds
towards the restoration of St John’s Church, Kates Hill.
Aynuk (Alan Smith) married his wife Mollie
on 4th April 1959 at St John’s and the benefit show forms
part of his fiftieth year wedding anniversary celebrations.
PICTURE - Aynuck
(Alan Smith) and Mollie (March 2009)
Other performers working alongside Aynuk in the
show are TV Star Lee Wilson (The Comedians), Black Country Comedienne
Marlene and singer Beryl Briscoe. Also appearing with Aynuk for
the first time is Emma Rollason appearing as ‘Dolly Allen’.
All the performers are appearing free of charge to help support
the efforts to save the historic St John’s Church, which
is now also a Grade II listed building.
Deb Brownlee chair St John’s Church Preservation
Group “This is the most amazing gesture by Aynuk
and his friends and we couldn’t believe it when he rang
to tell us of his connection to St John’s and offered to
help. Aynuk’s son Paul of the Aynuk and Ali cafe in Netherton
has also helped with the show by sponsoring tickets and posters
so it is a real family affair. The funds raised from the show
will go straight to the restoration of St John’s Church
building and hopefully put us a step closer to being able to start
on essential work before this winter.”
St John’s Church was closed to the public
in 2002 following a survey which stated that the building was
unsafe. Two subsequent surveys have shown the building to be both
safe and repairable. The cost for restoration and redevelopment
for use as a church and community centre over ten to twenty years
will be around £941,000. The Preservation Group are currently
trying to raise £16,000 for immediate waterproofing works,
£5000 to replace the lightning conductor and £15,000
for an essential feasibility study.
Professor Carl Chinn, patron of the Preservation
Group”It is uplifting to see such a high profile
entertainer as Aynuk stepping forward to help Save St John’s
Church. I call on all the local people to support this event and
to help in any way they can to raise the restoration funds needed.”
The show takes place on Wednesday 26th August
7.30pm at Club Dudley (The former Dudley Labour Club) in Waterloo
Street, Dudley and tickets are priced at £10 payable on
the door or can be reserved in advance by emailing savestjohnschurch
(at) hotmail.co.uk or by telephoning 01384 357634. They can also
be purchased from the Aynuk and Ali cafe in Netherton, Sofis cafe
in Dudley or from Preservation Group members at St John’s
Church on Saturdays from 10.30am onwards.
The show venue has been sponsored by Club Dudley
owner Mo Susch.
Further details of the work of St John’s
Church Preservation Group can be found on the website www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com
including details of how to donate to the restoration funds.
email the web master Mick Pearson: