Essex: Government criticised for letting churches fall into disrepair

AFTER three years of �fundraising and jumping through hoops to secure grants, a churchwalden’s husband has criticised the Church of England and the government for neglecting places of worship.

Colin Hayward is married to Roberta, churchwarden of St Mary’s Church in Little Sampford. The pair have worked tirelessly to secure �65,000 so that the church roof could be repaired after lead thieves struck in 2008.

The church is the only Grade I-listed church in the country with a thermoplastic polyolefin roof – a useful trade substance of little value compared to other more widely-used materials.

Although work to the church is complete, Mr Haywood has expressed his despair that the fundraising process has been unnecessarily difficult.

“We didn’t get any help from the government or the Church so we had to go out and find organisations and trusts that were willing to help,” he said.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to raise funds for places of worship. It seems taboo for grants to be given to churches.”

Mr Hayward believes that government is neglecting churches “despite being the basis of this country for years” while other groups are given grants just to take part in activities.

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“Parish churches tend to be neglected and that is what we have to fight against,” he said.

Mr and Mrs Hayward thanked the organisations and donors who helped them to reach their target, although this was not without incident. Having received the promise of a �29,000 grant from Biffa Waste Management, work on the church began “too early” so the money was taken away.

“We waited and waited for the grant; in the end we had to start the work because once the bats start roosting in the roof we can’t do anything,” said Mr Hayward.

However, grants were received from Viridor, Essex Environmental Trust, Fowler Smith and Jones Trust, The Sampfords Building Trust, BAA and Barclays, while the church also raised �10,000 towards the target.