Theophillia Shaw, Barbara Lewis, Peter Lovitt, Jill Kerry, David Furnival, Chris Bailey, Graham Harris,
Greater London: Theophilia Shaw, St Peter’s, Walworth
Theo works for a Christian charity in her day job and volunteers in a number of roles in her spare time. She leads the young people’s ministry at her local church where she contextualises what and how the scripture is applicable to young people in the 21st century. She co-leads the youth club which is designed to empower and equip young people to become leaders in their community and society. She is also the project manager of the winter night shelter at the church. Theo is one of the Parish Safeguarding Officers, looking out for the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults.
Scotland: Barbara Lewis, Annan United Reformed Church
Barbara works to engage young people with the church and music, working with the choir and a music group that she runs. The concerts that she puts on with each of these groups are excellent and the young people involved really enjoy themselves. Barbara also leads and conducts the Border Strathspey and Reel Society, a group of people who play traditional Scottish music, and she organised a concert by them to raise funds for major roof repairs for the church. The church is based in a small town which has pockets of major deprivation and since facilities were introduced, it has become a much needed hub for the local community.
Wales: Peter Lovitt, St German’s Church, Adamsdown, Cardiff
Peter is People’s Churchwarden and is involved in every aspect of both looking after the building and the activities taking place in the Parish. The church’s upkeep is a major challenge for the local area and since arriving, Peter has made all the difference to its future and place in the community. He has successfully organised and fundraised for a series of capital building projects and is now working on installing additional facilities for the church so that it can do even more for the community. Along with his wife, Peter volunteers as part of the Cardiff Churches Nightshelter network of seven churches from a range of denominations which provide accommodation for the homeless every night of the week from December through to March.
Northern Ireland: Jill Kerry, Ulster Historic Churches Trust
Jill has contributed to Northern Ireland’s churches and local communities through a three year maintenance project. The project has explored the use of drones for high level building inspections. The project has so far assisted 16 churches who have taken part with small maintenance grants and is due to work with a further 8 churches in the coming months. Looking after historic buildings creates an acute concern in Northern Ireland and many are at risk of closure. Jill has used over 20 years of experience as a chartered architect, working exclusively in conservation, to prevent these buildings from being closed and ensure that they remain an important part of the local community.
Central England: David Furnival, Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust
David devotes a high part of his life to the churches of Herefordshire and their promotion to the wider community. He passionately believes that churches should be recognised as a vital part of our heritage, and that non-churchgoers should feel as closely linked with their futures as Christian congregations. He set up a new website for the Trust, publishes a blog once a month and is extremely active on social media. David sees inclusion as central to his work as Chairman of the Trust and has built good relationships with all parts of both the church and local community. His most successful scheme is ‘Music in Quiet Places’ which encourages people who do not usually interact with churches to enjoy them through music. David’s initiatives are partly about raising funds for the Trust, but also demonstrate a passion for engaging whole communities in the future of their local historic buildings.
North of England: Chris Bailey, Art in Churches
Chris created a local voluntary group with the aim of bringing major contemporary art to the countryside, providing commissions and exhibition space for inspirational artists and attracting communities back to their local churches. A number of churches on a 26 mile trail are involved in the project and manned by volunteers. 7 artists created 7 new sculptures for the project which are capturing the interests of new audiences and connecting the contemporary with the surrounding landscape. The project follows an objective of “art for all” and they also run an education programme which sees artists go into local primary schools.
South of England: Graham Harris
Graham has been dedicated to churches in Somerset, served the local community and helped enable greater public engagement with churches. He is an active volunteer with the Friends of Leigh Church which supports the repair and conservation of St Giles’ Church and improve community facilities including a café where vulnerable local people. Graham set up the Leigh on Mendip Activity Group which provides support to older people while working to reduce loneliness. He has also been an active Ride and Stride Volunteer for the Somerset Churches Trust and put together the East Mendip Churches Heritage Trail, which raises over £1,000 per year.