Stephen Ellis and Revd Caroline Dick, reach for the sky with donations for the re roofing project at St Michael's and All Angels Witton Gilbert.

 The Revd Caroline Dick, roof tile in hand reaches for the sky at Michael's Witton Gilbert

The Revd Caroline Dick, roof tile in hand reaches for the sky at Michael’s Witton Gilbert
The congregation and supporters of an historic County Durham church have reached for the sky to raise thousands of pounds towards a new roof. St Michael and All Angels in Witton Gilbert, in the Anglican Diocese of Durham, has been offering people the opportunity to sign the slates which go on the roof, in return for donations. The initiative, which included a special weekend attended by large numbers of people, at which over 300 slates were signed, has helped raise more than £8,000 in donations towards the work. Hundreds of names of loved ones have been placed on slates in an initiative known as Your Name in the Sky. Work on replacing the church roof is half way through with a likely finish date of December or early January and is costing more than £100,000. The congregation member who came up with the idea for Your Name in the Sky was Parochial Church Council (PCC) member and secretary Robin Minney, and it has been supported by the local community, led by ‘Slate Champions’ such as congregation member Brenda Gilmore. PCC member Stephen Ellis said: “Over seven hundred slates have been purchased and we suggested that people donated £5 a slate. However, we have had donations of £50 or more. “Support has come not just from the local communities of Witton Gilbert and Sacriston but from further afield, from places like Manchester and Worthing. “It has really captured the imagination and enthusiasm of people. It has been a tremendous effort.”
 Stephen Ellis and Revd Caroline Dick, reach for the sky with donations for the re roofing project at St Michael's and All Angels Witton Gilbert.

Stephen Ellis and Revd Caroline Dick, reach for the sky with donations for the re roofing project at St Michael’s and All Angels Witton Gilbert.
Stephen believes that the initiative has also encouraged grant-making bodies such as the English Heritage, which awarded £55,000 towards work at the 800-year-old church. The work is part of a £262,000 investment to support the church’s Breathing Space programme, which is designed to make the building more accessible to the public through the likes of a new kitchen/meeting room, flooring, heating and seating. Breathing Space is a health and well-being project, which involves organisations working with a range of people, including those affected by mental health issues. The project takes advantage of the church’s setting next to a nature reserve and includes courses such as art and relaxation, along with healing sessions and teaching people about wildlife. Stephen, who is also a Trustee of Breathing Space, said: “I think initiatives like the slate-signing have convinced grant-awarding bodies of the seriousness of the project.”

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