On Sunday January 19, 2020, the tower of St John the Baptist church collapsed. Thankfully no one was hurt and the rest of the building stayed standing, but shortly afterwards the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the church council was left with the challenge to start their rebuilding project in lockdown.
An appeal was launched, initially, to make the building safe which involved the building being ‘scaffolded’ outside and inside, made waterproof and the site secured with a 10 feet high hoarding all round.
This had cost the village more than £31,000, but this was raised within two months thanks to the generous donations of local people and through funds loaned by villagers.
But on Monday, it was confirmed that £200,000 of National Lottery funding has been secured for the project, with work due to start in just a few weeks.
Alison Bell, secretary of the Parochial Church Council, said: “We’re all really thrilled the funding is secured.
The first job is to establish why the tower collapsed in the first place, and architects, conservation experts and structural engineers are due to start work within the next few weeks.
"We also need to make sure the stone is what we need as there are Norman stones included in the stonework in the archway on the porches.”
The church has been underpinned twice over the years – which is the process of strengthening the foundation of an existing building or other structure – the first of which was done in 1989, but it was re-done in 1991 to make the foundations deeper, which ultimately wasn’t enough to keep the building up.
But never in a million years, Alison said, did they expect the church tower to collapse:
"When it fell it was completely out of the blue! To get up in the morning and see he church hadn’t got its spire was a complete shock!”
An online crowdfunding campaign was set up by Rob Tomkinson when the tower collapsed, and he said the council and the village were all “really pleased” that the funding had been secured.
"A lot of hard work has gone into getting the funding secured and we’re so glad it’s all come together.
So many people have been really generous and the Reverand Charles Patrick has been really helpful as well.”
The church council hopes that the investigation by the architects and oher experts will be completed by October this year, with a view to being able to have a rebuilding plan for the church together by the new year.
Donations are still invited via the JustGiving crowdfunding page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/high-toynton-church