St Thomas’ Building Project

The Parochial Church Council has been concerned that the increasing cost of building works was outstripping our fundraising efforts and felt that was essential to reduce the cost of our approved building project and consider the possibility of phasing the construction.

The PCC decided to reduce costs by changing the design to avoid having to knock large holes through the existing wall between the nave and the community rooms. The amended design also lends itself to being delivered in two phases. Our Architect, Paul Grout, has prepared two drawings, one for downstairs and one for upstairs, both of which show, starting in the top left hand corner and moving round clockwise:

i) the existing layout,
ii) the approved scheme,
iii) the proposed design to reduce cost and to allow phasing, and
iv) the proposed Phase 1.

These drawings and larger scale drawings of Phase 1 will be displayed in the church over the next few weeks.

Phase 1 meets most of our objectives and would work well on its own if funding for Phase 2 is slow to arrive.

If you have any comments, please email [email protected]

In 1982, St Thomas’ Church was re-modelled, creating lower and upper community rooms, known as the Church Centre, at the west end of the nave for use by the wider community.

The re-modelling created extra community space but the toilets and upper room are not accessible to wheelchair users or the less mobile. The current arrangement requires users of the upper room to pass through the lower room for access and to use the toilets; bellringers and others have to pass through both rooms to access the ringing chamber. Finally, after more than 40 years, the toilet and kitchen facilities are in need of improvement to meet existing and future needs.

Proposed upper floor

Our Vision & Plan for the Future

St. Thomas’ serves a community of around 2000 which is growing in number – there is currently a proposal for a further 155 new houses to be built in Milnthorpe. With no village hall, many organisations and events are held in the church. We need to make our building as flexible and versatile as it can be in order to serve our community better.

The church proposes to improve the Church Centre to:

  • ensure that the Church Centre is accessible to all, including providing a wheelchair stair lift to the upper room,
  • enable the lower and upper rooms to be accessed independently by providing a foyer giving direct access to the stairs,
  • maintain the size of the lower room by extending it further into the nave and provide a balcony in the nave to offset the loss of pews,
  • improve the toilet facilities including providing wheelchair access,
  • provide overnight and shower facilities for ‘champing’,
  • modernise the kitchen facilities to reach catering standard,
  • provide a Parish Office as a point of contact with the community,
  • introduce doors in the lower room to give direct access to the churchyard and a proposed terrace, and to provide natural light to the lower room,
  • improve the footpaths in the churchyard to wheelchair standard.

In order to do this we need to:

  • Develop the unity that already exists with the local community,
  • Offer a building that is useful, organised and dynamic,
  • Provide a building fit and accessible for all who use it,
  • Work collaboratively, acknowledging the skills and gifts of others,
  • Ensure the building contributes to meeting the Church of England Carbon Neutral 2030 policy.

St. Thomas’ in the Community

There is a wide range of social/fundraising events held in the church or organised by the church that reach out into the local community. Regular Friday coffee mornings are manned by volunteers, some of whom are church members and some not.

Several organisations make regular use of the Church Centre and upper hall. These include the Ballet School, Brownies, Craft Group, NHS Well Being Group and local choirs. Milnthorpe and Heversham Mothers’ Union meets monthly at St Thomas’. Students from the secondary school use the church’s baby grand piano to practice in preparation for their examinations. There are many young families in our community who have grown up attending the church through various groups and activities and feel comfortable in the building.

The building needs to be used to its full potential every day. With catering standard kitchen facilities, we could offer a lunch club to the elderly and low income families to provide intergenerational social interaction to combat the development of isolation prevalent in old age and to assist families experiencing difficulties during the cost of living crisis.

St. Thomas’ already has a good social network and keen not to lose this during the pandemic we continued our ‘social activities’ via zoom and maintained contact with each other via email and phone and at a social distance. A record of our social interaction and how we continued our fundraising is recorded in a photo-book and is on display in the church.

The church is a building with the potential to be used by many more in the community, the feedback from our open days has been positive. It is an expensive building to be preserved for the benefit a comparative few who are more than happy to fling open the doors and allow the community to make the most of the space.Lastly, but most importantly

The Elemental Cost

Plan for the project is £250,000 excluding Fees, VAT, fixtures, furniture and fittings, external paths and inflation – a total of around £350,000 is considered necessary.

Total raised to date: £261,968

So a total of approx. £100,000 is still required to ensure the funding is available before we start the project.

If you would like to make a comment or have any suggestions about our plans then please email [email protected] or write to:

Dr. Val Robson, Churchwarden, Mill Race, Mill Lane, Milnthorpe, Cumbria. LA7 7QR or phone 015395 62904

If you would like to donate towards the cost of the project please donate by BACS to:

  • Account Name: PCC of Milnthorpe Building Fund.
  • Sort Code: 20-45-28 Account Number: 93367770

If you would prefer to donate by cheque, please send it to the address above.

If you like to increase the value of your donation by 25% at no extra cost to yourself, please write, email or phone using the contact details above and to say you would like to Gift Aid and we will contact you with the details. Thank you.