From Downton Abbey to Holy Spirit

CELEBRITY SUPPORT Peter Moreland with letters from Jack Nicklaus and Lady Fellowes.
CELEBRITY SUPPORT Peter Moreland with letters from Jack Nicklaus and Lady Fellowes.

A church which is saving up for a huge refurbishment programme for its centenary has had a donation from a very distinguished benefactor.

The Holy Spirit Catholic Church, in Bath Road, Heckmondwike, has been awarded £170,000 from English Heritage to pay for a complete restoration of the Grade II listed church, repairs to the roof and complete redecoration.

But members need to raise an additional £100,000 themselves.

They launched a centenary appeal – but soon realised it would be very difficult to raise enough money in time to complete the work by the centenary in 2014.

Peter Moreland, from the church, said: “We realised we could not possibly manage to raise £100,000 from the usual fund raising activities, like coffee mornings, concerts, raffles and other social events within the immediate local community.

“It was decided to make the appeal national and indeed global using social media networks and anything else we could think of.”

The church has been sent a donation of £100 from Lady Emma Fellowes, wife of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

Peter said: “Julian Fellows is one of a number of well known Catholics we approached and we were grateful to receive £100 from his wife, Lady Fellowes.

“Funds so far have come from a range of sources, such as parishioners, other Catholic churches nationally, charitable organisations and individuals.

“I have posted more than 100 letters to Catholic churches in America and to some of the astronauts and golfers who would have known Father Paddy Roche, who served at the church from 1964 to 1976,

“So far I have received a reply from legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, who remembered Paddy and sent us two autographed photos to sell.

“Former MP Ann Widdecombe sent two autographed books to sell and a donation was sent by golfer Bernard Gallagher.”

Scaffolding has gone up this week in preparation for the work to begin.