The new year heralds a new dawn for St John’s Church in Kates Hill, Dudley, and 2012 could be as important in its history as the year this Victorian Grade II listed building first opened its doors to serve the spiritual needs of a growing local population in 1842.
One hundred and seventy years later, and after months of involvement in a feasibility study to reopen the building in some sort of capacity, the St John’s Church Preservation Group, headed by Deb Brownlee, is cautiously looking forward to the months ahead when hopefully they will officially be able to take over the building. But Deb realises the hard work has only just begun: “We have to really step things up now, a case of rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in even more than before, and to help us reach our ultimate goal of putting the building to some sort of useful purpose to serve the local community, we need help from all quarters. The tombola stall is by far our biggest single fund-raiser to date, raising around £7,000 a year, and may I take this opportunity of thanking everyone for their support in this regard in the past.
“Volunteers from the St John’s Church Preservation Group run the tombola stall on Dudley market each Saturday in all weathers to make sure we raise funds every week. But the shine is easily rubbed off when we have to spend in the region of £1,000 to purchase the tombola prizes in the first place. The group therefore came up with the idea of a ‘Christmas Present Amnesty’, and we are appealing to those friends who already know about us, and Bugle readers far and wide, to donate any unwanted Christmas presents they may have, to help the cause. Every single donated prize increases our fundraising capabilities and at the same time makes the stall look a great deal more attractive, as donated gifts tend to have a higher value than those we would normally purchase.
“We would also like to hear from any businesses locally who could donate items such as excess or package damaged stock to help keep the number of prizes up. Donations can be taken to the St John’s Church Preservation Group Drop-In-Centre based at the former St John’s Church School in St John’s Road, or if it’s more convenient on a Saturday, come along to the market stall and you might strike lucky yourself.
“As we move closer to taking over the building we will need to increase our fundraising very considerably, and the tombola stall is a very big part of this, so every little helps. If we had sufficient volunteers we could even man a stall on a Wednesday, so if you feel you could help us out in this regard, working in Dudley’s historic market place, enjoying the banter and experiencing the joy of contributing to saving one of Dudley’s oldest buildings, we would love to hear from you.
“I have to say, the support we get from the public and fellow traders on Dudley market and in Dudley town centre is quite magnificent. I have to thank Bugle readers for their support as well. I found out at Christmas about some supporters who now live in Tenerife who have been following our story through the pages of the Bugle, and their messages have been very encouraging and heartening. So hopefully we might see a few Bugle readers down at the market, either serving, buying or donating. Once again, thanks for the support so far.” The Drop-In-Centre is open Monday to Friday, and weekends by arrangement, and the telephone number is 0752 218 4461. Email contact is: s a v e s t j o h firstname.lastname@example.org and Deb Brownlee can be contacted direct on 0787 119 5042. There is further information available on the website too, at: www.savestjohnschurch.zoo mshare.com.