Community-spirited villagers help raise funds for church
VILLAGERS have raised more than £100,000 to help keep the historic church at the centre of their rural community.
The Friends of Checkley Church have been collecting cash to pay for the upkeep of the listed building since the 1980s.
Chairman Clive Smith, aged 70, of Tean, said: "Over the past few years we have lost some important services in the village, like the post office, so it is important that we have a focal point.
"It is very important to keep the church going.
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"It is part of the ethos of the village."
The 20 members have held events such as street markets and re-enactments at Heath House, Tean, to bolster funds.
Joyce Plant, who worships at St Mary and All Saints Church, in Church Lane, said: "Through the years the Friends have brought people together and done their upmost to raise funds for the church. They do so much for the community.
"The church is a very old so there has been a lot to do. We had a very rare window taken out and restored which was very expensive."
Now Mrs Plant, of Tean, has nominated the determined group in The Sentinel's Our Heroes award for the Community Group of the Year.
Mrs Plant said: "Everybody has worked very hard and they put in endless hours which is all voluntary.
"I think they do a very good job."
The Friends latest fund-raising push is to collect money to improve the church tower and belfry.
Mrs Plant said: "Nobody comes along to give the church the funds to do that so we have to make sure we have enough in the kitty.
"The church at the minute is in very good condition thanks to all these fund-raising efforts.
"It is the nucleus of our village and it provides not only a church but a fantastic community centre."
Last year the church raised £200 by holding a concert performed by the Saint Cecilia Singers and solo performances from students who attend Blythe Bridge High School.
The Friends are also gearing up for a Diamond Jubilee celebration.
Mrs Plant said: "It is the people of Checkley and Tean who have made this all possible."