An iconic St Helens church which was threatened with closure due to the spiralling cost of repairs has been saved by a £240,000 lottery grant.
Holy Trinity Church in Fingerpost - known as the Giraffe Church because of its distinctive patterned brickwork - had been attracting attention from prospective buyers despite chronic problems with its roof.
Now though, the Traverse Street church, which has Grade II listed status, is set to be transformed courtesy of a bumper lottery grant to ensure it will remain at the heart of community life for decades to come.
Church warden Dorothy Dodd said: “We were absolutely ecstatic when we found out about the lottery grant. It’s a tremendous boost not just for the church but for the community as a whole.
“We had had a ‘for sale’ sign up for a while and a couple of people were interested in buying it - but this is a much better solution for everyone concerned.
“The church is going to be transformed now like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis!”
Work on the roof and guttering is first on the agenda to ensure the building is waterproof.
Then, attention will move inside where the church will be given a new lick of paint, the disabled access will be improved and the kitchen and other facilities are in line for a revamp.
It is hoped the first phase of the work will be completed by June 2015.
Various community groups will continue to use the facility in the meantime and church bosses now hope to be able to entice more younger people through the doors.
Mrs Dodd, 70, a member of the church for 32 years, added: “The church is going to be given a new lease of life and it’s an exciting time.
“We feel it’s God’s gift to be able to be caretakers of this church, so you can imagine how excited we are.
“The potential for growth in the church is there. Now we just need to get more young people involved.”
St Helens Parish Church in St Helens town centre has also benefitted from a bumper lottery grant - it was awarded £200,400 for refurbishment work .
Sara Hilton, from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), said the grants will ensure the buildings are both “properly cared for into the future”.
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