Facelift for iconic church

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AN iconic landmark in Heckmondwike has won a grant of almost £170,000 to help towards vital restoration work.

The Holy Spirit Church in Bath Road is a Grade II listed building, but the roof and interior plasterwork are badly deteriorating.

Parishioners have fundraised for several years to pay for repairs and now, after a third application, the church has secured a £169,000 English Heritage grant.

However the parish has to raise another £70,000 itself.

The church, built in 1915, is unique, being built in the Byzantine style with design features inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

It was funded by local Catholics and parish priest Father John O’Connor, who sold off his own large private art collection.

The grant is conditional and comes in two phases. The first £18,000 is for a full study of the condition of the roof, and for which the parish must pay an additional £7,000.

Once that is complete the repair work, costing £212,000 — with £151,000 from English Heritage — can begin.

Father John Abberton said he was delighted and praised the generosity of the parishioners.

“I want to congratulate the parishioners for the work they have done in raising the money they have over the last few years. It’s been a tremendous effort.”

Parish council chairman Peter Moreland said several fundraising events were already planned including a bag pack at Morrisons and a sponsored walk on Snowdon in June and he urged people to come forward with more ideas.

“The church is an important feature in Heckmondwike, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” he said.

Finance chairman David McCarthy said: “The fabric of the church has deteriorated quite badly and this will bring it back to its former glory.”

A special meeting to discuss fund-raising will be held in the parish room at 7pm on April 28 for anyone to attend. Anyone who can help can contact Peter on 01924 501774 or at petermoreland@hotmail.com or David on davidmccarthy158@btinternet.com.