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Welcome

Thank you for visiting the ‘Friends of Westmill Church’ (FoWC) website.

Since completion of roof refurbishment works at the end of June 2013 the FoWC have enjoyed some respite, as indeed must have the villagers, from living and breathing fund raising.

At the AGM in February 2014 it was agreed that the FoWC should continue in existence to ensure a structure remained in place to support any potential, future refurbishment/maintenance needs of the church building.

Committee members are on a month by month rota to keep the flower beds at the entrance to St Mary's neat and tidy, and many of them joined other enthusiastic villagers for the Churchyard annual tidy up in October.  This event is traditionally celebrated with a large, smoky bonfire, refreshments, homemade cakes and biscuits accompanied by a generous helping of merriment.  The end result is a spic and span churchyard of which everyone is very proud.

The interior of St Mary's has not been forgotten; undergoing complete redecoration and the installation of new carpets with FoWC funds contributing towards these works.

More recently, much needed repairs to the bell tower door, the crumbling west door, the window frames, the Lych-gate roof and the sump drain to North side of tower have been completed and FoWC funds have been contributed to these projects too. 

The Village Lottery continues;  as of March 2016, over £8,000 has been contributed directly to FoWC funds and an equal sum distributed in prize money.  Until another specific church project is earmarked, FoWC will maintain the Village Lottery as a steady fund raiser to keep it ticking over but will be ready and willing to leap into action when needed - as inevitably will happen..........

The PCC are developing new plans: at some point it would be marvellous to give the church organ a long overdue health check - the last one was over half a century ago according to church records - so watch this space and please support any future events in aid of St Mary's whether run by the FoWC or the PCC.

We look forward to hearing from you via our Guestbook

 

Latest News:

 

Online Donations

FOWC have teamed up with BT MyDonate to make it easier for us to collect donations via this website.

Please click on the 'Donations' menu item on the left for further details.

 

Friends of Westmill Church Lottery

Our 63rd draw took place on 2nd August 2016

110 numbers were sold at £2.00 each so £110 has gone into the FOWC Funds and four numbers were drawn for prizes of £50.00; £30.00; £20.00 and £10.00.

The 64th draw will take place at 8.30pm at The Sword Inn Hand on Tuesday 6th September 2016.

Click here for details of how to join the FOWC Lottery!

 

Coles Park - Daffodil and Coffee Morning

On Tuesday 22nd March, Lord and Lady Carter kindly opened their gardens at the Pump House for a daffodil and coffee morning.

   

Visitors paid an entrance fee for which they received refreshments, delicious cakes, raffle prizes and the opportunity to pick a bunch of daffodils to take home.  The sun shone gloriously on all those who attended and a magnificent £385 was raised for much needed Church funds . 

 

Westmill Village News

The latest edition of 'Westmill Village News' is now available on our website...

Click here to have a look!

 

Annual Churchyard Tidy

The annual churchyard tidy took place on Saturday 10th October 2015...

Click here for more photos...

 

George Cranville: 10th August 1915 - 10th August 2015

The grave of George Cranville is one of two Commonwealth War Graves from the First World War that are situated in St. Mary's Churchyard.

This year represents 100 years since George died and we thought it would be fitting to mark the occassion so at 7.45pm on the evening of 10th August, villagers from Westmill gathered for a small commemoration.  The Last Post was sounded and a wreath was laid at his grave.

For further details about George Cranville along with his friends from Westmill who also gave their lives in the Great War, please click here to look at our 'Remembrance' page.

 

VE-Day Commemoration

On Saturday 9th May, St. Mary's hosted a short service of commemoration for the 70th Anniversary of VE-Day.

Following the service, the bells were rung at 11.00am, joining cathedrals and churches across the UK ringing in celebration.

   
   

For more photos (many thanks to Alan Gibson) please take a look at our Gallery

 

The Last Post

Following on from The Last Post Project on November 2014 (see below), we have been sent a wonderful plaque to commemorate our participation.

We just have to find the right place to display it...

 

The Last Post

The Last Post is a mass participation project that will see communities across the UK playing the Last Post on a variety of different instruments to remember lives of World War One. 

Across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland a variety of events will mark "Last Post fortnight" between 4th & 18th November and share local First World War stories, play music from the era and perform the Last Post as a tribute.

The Last Post is is a powerful ceremonial call which participants can make their own as part of a shared community experience. At every event it will be played to remember a group or individual connected to the area - not just on bugles but on any instrument from pianos to bagpipes, guitars to drums.

Westmill's Act of Remembrance will be held on Sunday 9th November at 9.15am and has been registered as part of the Last Post project.  As part of the Act of Remembrance, Nigel Leaney will play Last Post and Reveille on the bugle.  We hope that many will attend the service to remember those from Westmill that gave their lives.

 

Afternoon Teas at Sissons

On Sunday 21st September, the gardens at Sissons were opened for a special afternoon tea in celebration of the life of Betty Mildren and an opportunity to raise money for St. Mary's Church.

A band of helpers prepared for the Sunday afternoon with much laughter along the way even though thunder and lightning and heavy rainfall on the Friday could have dampened the best of spirits. Saturday was a bit dull and Sunday morning definitely dawned a bit 'iffy' but the wonderful array of cakes, aroma of freshly ground coffee and arrival of Freman College Big Band early in the afternoon cheered everyone up.

Freman College Big Band were terrific! They entertained all afternoon with only a short interval - it was a bit chilly and probably a lot warmer to keep playing - and everyone seemed to enjoy and appreciate their undoubted talents. They really made it all go with a swing.

Thanks to those who donated the raffle prizes which contributed to the magnificent sum of £305.70 raised on the day. Rita Pickup, PCC Treasurer, has asked that thanks be passed on to all who gave their support especially to Malcolm and Ana who hosted the afternoon.

More photos can be found in our Photo Gallery

 

Edible replica of St. Mary's wins The Great Church Bake Off!

Wendy Leaney (who made the cake for our Service of Thanksgiving) baked an edible sponge cake replica of St Mary the Virgin church in Westmill for The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) 'Great Church Bake Off', a competition she saw advertised in the Waitrose magazine.

She impressed judges Loyd Grossman (CCT Chairman), Lady Lucy French (CCT Trustee) and Waitrose pastry consultant Will Torrent with her skilfully sculpted creation made out of homemade elderflower cordial and lime sponge.

Loyd Grossman said: "Wendy’s cake was such a brilliant entry and the attention to detail was remarkable. All of the cakes were great and we were all surprised at the huge variety in cake structures we saw. The stories we received about what these buildings mean to people and communities from around the UK were really special and reminded us just why the CCT’s work in keeping churches open and accessible is so important."

The cake was enjoyed by the congregation after church on 29th June (once the all-important photos had been taken for the entry!)

You can read more about the competition and find the CCT press release here.  Friends of Westmill Church have been contacted for promotional photos so we hope to see our Church and our story reach an even wider audience.

Wendy's next task will be to reproduce the cake so that it can be exhibited at Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show in November at the NEC in Birmingham.

 

Hertfordshire Constabulary Choir

It had been a blisteringly warm day with no sign of the predicted heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. 

As the choir arrived at the Village Hall to partake of their pre-performance 'light snack' just a few drops of rain could be felt in the air but it held off. 

Whoever said you don't sing on a full stomach can't have met this lot!  Having feasted well, they entertained an audience of over 80 people, many of whom had been to their concerts before so it really felt like a gathering of old and new friends . 

Organised chaos reigned at the intermission - for that read 'rained' when, in the hope of avoiding any spillages on our new carpet the plan was to have the refreshments outside.  "Please go out through the bell tower taking a drink as you go", we asked.  The throng did as it was asked, forming an orderly but fast moving queue -(well it was a very warm evening even with the doors open and everyone was thirsty even if they hadn't been singing).  Some managed to grab a drink but before many minutes had passed the cry came back down through St. Mary's "Stop! The heavens have opened. It's raining!" 

The queue dithered, not quite knowing whether they were allowed to stand on the new carpet or not but equally reluctant to return to the pews (which are not known for their comfort).  There was an audible sigh of relief when the words "It's ok, it's been treated with Scotchguard!" were heard.

The Hertfordshire Constabulary Choir's repertoire is varied and there's always something for everyone to enjoy.  Their compère, Keith, raises quite a few laughs by telling a yarn or two while the singers take a breather. 

Their services are generously given free of charge and the enjoyment they clearly get from singing together was certainly appreciated by all those who shared in the evening. 

Ticket sales raised £425.00 towards FOWC funds and our thanks go to everyone who attended.

 

Service of Thanksgiving

On Saturday 5th April, St. Mary the Virgin, Westmill opened it's doors for a Service of Thanksgiving for the restoration of the roof and interior redecoration.

It was wonderful to be able to fill the church with so many of the people that have contributed their time, money and expertise over the last three years. 

It was the ideal way to express gratitude to everyone who helped us achieve our goal.

Sadly, it was also time to wish a fond farewell to our Churchwardens, Sue and Hilary, as they retire from their posts and look forward to a well-earned rest.

After the service the congregation were invited to join Friends of Westmill Church for celebratory refreshments.  Thank you to Jeremy and all the staff at Sword Inn Hand for looking after us all so well and to Wendy Leaney for the magnificent cake!

Further photos can be found in our Photo Gallery.

 

Christmas 2013

We were lucky to have our first service in our newly re-decorated church this Christmas Eve.

Wishing you have a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

From everyone at St. Mary's

 

Singing for St. Mary's

Friends from Buntingford Choir joined 'Westmillians' Sue Phipps, Leigh Wood, Lesley Wymer and Jan James to sing at Pearce's Farm Shop on the morning of Saturday 21st December 2013. 

Positioned strategically at the exit point gave those going past plenty of time to gather some loose change or seek an alternative escape route.

The group sang Christmas songs and carols for just over an hour to the fruit and vegetable laden public who were kind enough to drop coins into the bucket (rather than the odd sprout or carrot top they might have been tempted to donate instead!)

Our thanks to Emma Christou, Phyllis Clark, Carol Nichols and Chris Richardson and, of course, Pearce's who helped us raise £81.00 for Friends of Westmill Church.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all.

Jan James.

 

Churchwardens Hit The Roof!  

Yes, well almost!

Hilary and myself bravely climbed not one, but two ladders to inspect at first hand the refurbishment of the ceiling and to see the rafters at close proximity.   We were followed up by David Mills, Trustee of the Friends of Westmill Church and Gerald Barrett our Church Architect.  We were led by Donovan our excellent guide and church decorator who has worked very hard with his colleagues to get the main area of the Church ready in time for Christmas.

It was fascinating to see the old beams and later repairs carried out by the Victorians which you can see in the photos in our Photo Gallery.  Donovan kindly provided extremely good lighting which allowed us to have a good look round this cavernous area which I must add was as dry as a bone, a very good sign.

After Donovan had placed a small time capsule up in the rafters for us, we signed our names on the roof (out of sight of course) for posterity and descended the ladders having really enjoyed a once in a life time experience.

St Mary's Westmill will be open on Christmas Eve for the crib service at 5.30pm on Christmas Eve.  All very welcome.  The church will be open as normal for services from the beginning of January as follows:

  First Sunday   Morning Worship
  2nd Sunday Holy Communion
  3rd Sunday No Service
  4th Sunday Holy Communion

We will be holding a Thanksgiving Service to celebrate the new roof on Saturday 5th April at 3pm.  Please watch this space for further details.  

We would like to say an enormous thank you to all who have worked so hard for St Mary's Westmill over the last few years to provide a new roof, Garden of Remembrance and also a much need redecoration of the interior of the church, to mention just a few.  

Very Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone.

Sue and Hilary Churchwardens

 

How many tiles are there on the new roof?

The competition to estimate the number of new tiles used to complete the work on the new church roof attracted a great amount of interest and raised £220 towards FOWC funds.

For those of you wondering, there were a total of 20097 tiles used.

The closest guess was 20106 by Paul Cousins.  Well done to him and thank you all for your entries!   

 

Remembrance

Just in time for the 2013 Season of Remembrance, and in readiness for the centenary commemoration of the outbreak of The First World War, I have been researching the names on Westmill's war memorial with the aim of including the findings on this website.  There is still work to do but the information that has been uncovered so far is fascinating.

The research undertaken is also feeding into a County wide project 'Herts at War' which aims to uncover the untold stories of the County’s men and women and commemorate these individuals a century on.  Recording the details of  and understanding some of the background to the names listed on Hertfordshire's war memorials is an integral part of the project.

My research has involved looking at census information from 1901 and 1911, Birth, Death and Marriage records, War Service records where available and of course information provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 

I am sure that there are still living descendants of Westmill's war dead and I would be really interested in hearing from anyone with more information.  If you can help fill in any details for the names listed on Westmill's roll of honour I'd really appreciate it if you could get in touch as I'd like to be able to provide a resource for future generations.

You can find the details I have recorded so far by using the Remembrance link on the main menu.

I hope you will take time to take a look at what has been uncovered about the lives behind the names on our memorial and take time to remember them and the families that they left behind.

Thank you

Nigel Leaney

 

Interior work set to start!

With the much needed work on the Church interior imminent and for health and safety reasons, St Mary the Virgin will be closed for worship and access from Saturday 12th October until the end November 2013. The churchyard will remain accessible at all times.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience but we are sure it will be worth it to have the interior refurbished in time for Christmas so it can be enjoyed by all. We look forward to keeping you updated as the work progresses.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Best wishes,

Sue and Hilary, Churchwardens

 

Picnic to celebrate the completion of the roof repairs

Despite being rather cloudy and not that warm, on Sunday 8th September 2013, we were able to enjoy a gathering of over 30 residents of the village and surrounding area to mark this auspicious occasion.

While we ate our picnic were entertained by Sarah Hill (our Rector's wife) on the saxophone and Chris Pierce on his guitar playing an extensive repertoire of music.  Well done and all our thanks for entertaining us so well!

After a speech of thanks by Rector Ian Hill, a tug of war was held between the ladies and gentlemen. The men got lucky this year and beat the girls but watch out next year!

We would like to say a big thank you so much to all who came to the picnic to make it such a lovely afternoon.  Thanks to Debbie who kindly lent us her big gazebo which was very useful. 

A bit of interesting information sourced by Mike Harding who found out that when the roof was last repaired in 1870 they held a garden party to mark the occasion so we were following closely in the same tradition.  I wonder how they will celebrate next time?!

A roof well done Westmill.  

Sue Phipps Churchwarden

You can view other photos from the picnic by looking at our Photo Gallery

 

Aerial footage of the roof repairs

Charles Thody was able to take this fantastic aerial footage of St. Mary's Westmill showing the new roof off to its very best...

It's amazing the lengths that some people will go to in order to count the number of tiles for a competition!



Many thanks again Charles, the video is wonderful!

 

Work Update

Great News!

As you will see, the scaffolding is finally down to reveal the result of everyone's hard work...  

The churchyard will take a little while to recovery from all of the machinery and building work it has endured over the last 6 months but it is all starting to look rather good.

The churchwardens are now waiting for quotes for some additional works that will really add the finishing touches to the project:

Clean and redecorate the interior ceiling, retile the lychgate roof and repair crumbling walling at the base of the tower.

We would once again like to thank David Mills for keeping us up to date 'photographically' with the work as it progressed.  You can view his photos of the project 'as it happened' by looking at our photo Gallery

 

Jeremy ran the London Marathon for FOWC!

On Sunday the 21st of April 2013, Jeremy Lee, Landlord of the Sword Inn Hand, ran the Virgin London Marathon on behalf of Friends of Westmill Church.

Jeremy says:

"I had a fantastic run up until the 16th mile but unfortunately pulled my groin! Not wanting to give up, I managed to hobble the last ten miles and finished just short of six hours 5.56.30. What a day though and what a great experience!"

Jeremy raised £750 and presented it to FOWC at the July Lottery draw.   Many congratulations again and a huge thankyou for all his hard work!

 

Update from the Churchwardens

We have just held the Friends of Westmill Church Annual General Meeting and during the last year, we are pleased to say that sufficient funds have been raised in time to meet the English Heritage Stage 1 deadline of 16th December 2012.

Part of the prequisites of Stage 1 was to collect tenders for the work to the roof. This was done through advertising in Cornerstones and Gerald Barrett, our Architect received over 14 enquiries.  It was quite a task to shortlist just five applications. After several meetings and discussions it was agreed with the PCC to accept the tender from R J Pinnock and Sons of Wallington. All our thanks to Gerald for his hardwork.  

Since the deadline in December we are now pleased to say we have received a grant offer from English Heritage for the sum of £78,000 towards Stage 2 costs.  We have also had our faculty approved by the Diocese of St Albans, which means that we have the go ahead to carry out the necessary repairs.   

A site meeting has been scheduled with Messrs Pinnock and Sons for the 13th February to discuss the works timetable and sign the necessary contract.  It is hoped that work can commence shortly after this meeting.  

At this point Hilary and I would like to thank very much indeed several of people for their great help and support in getting us to this stage of the project:  A big thank Mr David McMullen and Mr David Mills for their continuing support, their pearls of wisdom and giving up their valuable time to attend meetings; To members of the PCC for their and support; We would also like to thank very much Mr Michael Thody, who is standing down as chairman of The Friends of Westmill Church, for everything he has done from the setting up of the Friends, and to welcome Mrs Sally Cousins as the new Chairlady; To all the Friends of Westmill Church committee for the all the hard work over the last two years raising such a huge amount of money without which we would not be in such a strong position to proceed with this project; A great many thanks to all the people of Westmill for their continuing support from the very beginning of this project to preserve our beautiful church.

Thank you very much.

Sue Phipps & Hilary Harding.
Churchwardens, St Mary the Virgin Westmill.

 

Thankyou from the Churchwardens

We are delighted to announce that we have now reached the target of £171,000 for repairs to the church roof. Two years ago it seemed a huge and daunting task and this has now been completed! Very many congratulations to everyone here in Westmill and to all the other people involved. All our thanks for your support and generosity.
 
We are very grateful to the “Friends of Westmill Church” for the huge amount of hard work and effort they have put into fund raising such a huge amount of money towards the target. Special thanks to Michael Thody, David McMullen and David Mills also all thanks to Gerald Barrett our architect, who is working extremely hard for us. We would also like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, who administer for the Lottery Fund, and the other grant bodies for their generous sponsorship.
 
We hope to instruct the selected builder by November with a view to starting work on the roof in the spring. Again all our thanks to everyone in the Village of Westmill for helping to preserve our beautiful Church for future generations.
 
Sue Phipps & Hilary Harding.
Churchwardens St Mary the Virgin Westmill

 

Thankyou from the FOWC Chairman

Two years ago I, together with a number of friends met to discuss the possibility of forming a new charity in Westmill to support our local Church and Churchwardens. In January 2011 Friends of Westmill Church (FOWC) was launched. The sole purpose of the new charity was to raise funds to repair our Church Roof. During the last 2 years FOWC has raised over £48k. This overwhelming figure has come from donations and support for the various activities that FOWC have arranged.
 
With a population of fewer than 300 people we have been amazed at the generosity of everyone.  I believe that every single person in our village has at some time contributed in some way or another to this fantastic grand total. I also feel sure that Westmill has become a more united Village during the course of our funds raising efforts.
 
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the committee of FOWC. We together have raised large sums for our Village Church. It has, at times been hard work, but very rewarding.   
 
Following the advice of the medical profession I will be standing down as fund raising Chairman at our AGM in January 2013. The Trustees will remain the same.
 
Friends of Westmill Church has been built on a very strong foundation with a committee that has proved it is capable of carrying out serious fund raising.  Although cash targets have been met at the moment, our Church will always be in need of more funds, I therefore urge you all to support future fund raising activities.
 
My very sincere thanks to you all for your support and the overwhelming encouragement you have given me.  I have felt it a real pleasure and privilege to be involved with this project and now look forward to seeing the roof repair work commence.
  
Sincerely
Michael Thody
FOWC Fund Raising Chairman 2012

 

Normandy Bike Ride 2012

Many congratulations to former Westmill resident Kevin Foskett who successfully completed a 5 day bike ride from Dieppe taking him a distance of over 270 miles along the French coast  - and most of it in the rain!

From Pegasus Bridge (pictured left) and Caen, Kevin and his friend Andy,  visted the British War Cemetery at Bayeux to pay their respects then rode out to the the American Sector - Utah , then travelled back all the way along the coast visiting Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches on the way before returning home from Le Havre.

Kevin said that it was an amazing trip, quite thought provoking and definitely a journey to be repeated (but perhaps by car next time!) 

Kevin (on the right) generously accepted sponsorship on behalf of Friends of Westmill Church and has raised £660 for our appeal.  A donation was also made to the Royal British Legion.

Our sincere thanks go to Kevin once again for a fantastic effort!

 

Singing for Pleasure

The Church was packed on Saturday 13th October 2012 and was entertained by a Choir from Welwyn Garden City.

The 35 strong choir were conducted by the Husband & Wife musical Directors Glynis & Cliff Rodgers.

They shared the evenings conducting with a wide variety of songs some of which were with audience participation.

The event added a further £1100 to our Church Roof Repair fund.

 

FOWC Calendar 2013 Photo Exhibition

FOWC would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the exhibitors at last weekend's photographic exhibition held in St. Mary's.

We were lucky to have nearly 60 wonderful photographs on display and a good number of visitors during the period of the exhibition even though the weather wasn't particularly nice.

Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite twelve photographs so we can produce a 'limited edition' calendar for 2013 to be sold in aid of Friends of Westmill Church.

 We gathered in the church for a Songs of Praise on Sunday evening and for final vote counting...

...the results of which are as follows:

 I Shall Be Whiter Than Snow John Cheshire
 For The Beauty Of The Earth Bryan Mason
The Lord Is My Shepherd Sally Cousins
Abide With Me Kate Cousins
Awake, Awake To Love And Work Gwen Edwards
One More Step Along The World I Go Gwen Edwards
All Creatures Of Our God And King Bryan Mason
Gift Of Finest Wheat John Cheshire
All Creatures Of Our God And King Nigel Leaney
Morning Has Broken Michael Thody
All Creatures Of Our God And King Kate Cousins
See Amid The Winter’s Snow Michael Thody

All of the entries from the exhibition are now available in our photo gallery for you to look at.

 

Beds and Herts Histric Churches Trust - Sponsored Bike Ride

Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust was established in 1991 to raise and manage funds to help the restoration and repair of churches and chapels in the counties of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

St. Mary the Virgin, Westmill is fortunate to have received a very generous grant from BHHCT towards the repair of the roof so on Saturday 8th September 2012, Nigel Leaney, FOWC committee set himself a challenge to take part in their annual "Bike ’n Hike" event.

Starting and finishing in Westmill, Nigel visited 33 churches in the Buntingford and Stevenage area and covered nearly 70 miles on one of the hottest days of the year!  Click here to see details of Nigel's route.

Nigel has raised £170 in sponsorship for his efforts,  50% of which goes directly to St. Mary’s Westmill as his nominated church.

If you haven't sponsored Nigel and would like to do so, you can still donate online by visiting www.justgiving.com/nleaney

 

The Winthrop Tour Visits  St. Mary's

Wednesday 15th August 2012 saw the arrival of a coach from Heathrow of 32 American ladies and gentleman.  The group was headed by Mr Bob Anderson.  The Group are here on a 10 day tour of 20 churches spread across several counties connected with the Winthrop Fleet which sailed to America in 1630.  On board was Ezekiel Richardson from Westmill, who was later followed by his brothers Samuel and Thomas and also his nephews, Francis and John Wyman. One of the ladies of the Group, Mary, was a direct descendent of one of the nephews.

St Mary’s was the first church on the tour and after lunch at the Sword Inn Hand the visitors came into church and were seated for two presentations.  After a welcome from Sue Phipps and Hilary Harding, Mr David McMullen was introduced who kindly gave a very interesting presentation on Westmill in the 17th century, David also included several interesting items relating to that era.  Then it was the turn of Mr Michael Thody who gave an intriguing talk on the Bells at Westmill, along with demonstrations carried out by Mr Michael Harding.  David McMullen then gave a short chat about the last highway man shot in Hertfordshire who is buried in the churchyard.

The Group then spent time exploring the church.  Light refreshments were provided and there was a display of photos of the village taken over the last century, together with literature for sale.  The afternoon was enjoyed by all.  All our thanks go to the group for the donations they made in aid of the Roof Appeal.   Thank you very much also to Judy Thody, Rita Pickup and Russell Phipps for providing refreshments and for helping to welcome and entertain our visitors so well.

Sue Phipps and Hilary Harding, Churchwardens

 

Coles Park - Open Gardens

On Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th July 2012, Lord and Lady Carter opened their gardens at the Pump House as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

As it turned out, the Great British Summer (as well as a certain Scotsman appearing in SW19) conspired against us and visitors were down in number when compared to the last time they opened.

That said, the gardens look magnificent and we know from the many comments that those who braved the elements were delighted with what they saw when touring the grounds.

We are please to say that when combined with a very generous donation from Lord & Lady Carter, FOWC were fortunate enough to raise a total of £350 from the sale of refreshments during the weekend. 

 

Westmill Doubles Tennis Tournament

The Friends of Westmill Church Doubles Tennis Day on Wednesday 27th June 2012 proved to be an enormous success!

The weather held out, a good day was had by all and the event raised an magnificent total of £826.62 for FOWC. 

Many thanks to Sally for organising the event and to Amanda, Jenny and Trina for all of their assistance ion making the day work so well.

Watch out for more photos and a more detailed review of the day coming soon!

 

Sponsored Abseil

On Saturday 5th May 2012, The Reverend Ian Hill completed an abseil from the Harlow Tye water tower in Church Langley to fundraise for FOWC..

Ian writes: "It was surprisingly nerve-wracking, as even climbing up the inside of the water tower is vertigo inducing!  For the abseil itself, with only the safety rope attached I had to climb over the edge and kneel down on a very small concrete block before the abseil rope could be attached.  It was an amazing experience, but I was still shaking ten minutes later!  It was however well worth it as I managed to raise £1100 for the Friends of Westmill church.

 Although a drop in the ocean compared to the £171,000 needed, it edges us ever closer to our target, and hopefully beyond.  It is of course not too late for people to sponsor me and I would love to be able to increase my total!"

The abseil is organised every year by the Rotary Club of Harlow Tye, this being the twelfth year, with people abseiling both on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May, there were 40 abseilers on the Saturday alone.  If people want to follow Ian's example, they should contact the Rotary Club for further details.

 

BBC Look East Report

Following the fantastic news (see below) that St. Mary's Church has secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the Press Releases have generated interest from the local press and television news.

You can find the Buntingford and Royston Mercury article of 1st March 2012 within the Press Cuttings section of the Photo Gallery.

The following clip is from BBC Look East on Tuesday 13th March 2012:

 

Friends of Westmill Church are delighted to report the following annoucements:

News Release: English Heritage

 

 

 

 

 

VITAL £2.8M FOR EAST OF ENGLAND’S MOST IMPORTANT PLACES OF WORSHIP

 

Monday 27th February 2012  

Today, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced more than £2.8million of Lottery funding to support urgent repairs to 28 of East of England’s most important Grade I and II* listed churches and chapels.  The money comes from the Repair Grants for Places of Worship scheme*, which is funded by HLF and administered by English Heritage.

Across Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk these vital grants will help repair places of worship at risk including St Mary Roman Catholic Church in Great Yarmouth and St Mary the Virgin’s Church in Westmill, Hertfordshire.

Robin Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said; “Historic places of worship are an irreplaceable part of our heritage that continues to play a vital role within local communities today.  In the last ten years, the Heritage Lottery Fund has invested £155million into these wonderful buildings and I am delighted we are able to continue supporting congregations across the East of England to safeguard them for future generations.”

Greg Luton, Planning Director for the East of England, English Heritage, said “We are pleased that these important buildings will benefit from HLF funding and English Heritage’s expert advice.  We know that maintaining places of worship and developing them sensitively is a major challenge and we are glad to work with the inspiring volunteers who make repairs and enhancements happen.  Such fine buildings are a great resource, as places of spiritual discovery, landmarks, events venues, places of solace and architectural treasures. These grants celebrate both what they are and can be, whilst supporting the people who care for them on behalf of us all.”

St Mary Roman Catholic Church, Great Yarmouth Grant:  £130,000 A knapped flint Grade II* listed church built between 1848 and 1850, internally St Mary Roman Catholic Church is little altered.  It was designed by John Scoles, who was one of the Jesuits’ favoured architects.  Notably the church has more than 800 carved wooden bosses, beautiful stained glass in the Lady Chapel and a 112 year old organ with 1032 pipes.  The upper levels of the church are in a very poor condition and this great will enable significant repair works to falling flints from the tower and clerestorey, and address leaking roofs.

St Mary the Virgin’s Church, Westmill, Hertfordshire.  Grant:  £99,000 This Grade II* church is of Saxon origins. It has a long history of subsequent additions and alterations including an impressive 15th century tower.  This grant will enable urgent repairs and re-tiling of the nave roof and north aisle roof, which will prevent further water ingress and deterioration.

*The Repair Grants for Places of Worship in England Scheme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and administered by English Heritage on behalf of both organisations.

Until 2010, the scheme was jointly funded by HLF and EH. Since then, HLF has provided the majority of the funding to ensure that the scheme continues in its current form until 2013.

Listed places of worship in England of all denominations and faiths are eligible for grants which support urgent repairs to the fabric of the building with a focus on projects costing less than £250,000. There is a two-stage application process with development funding available at Stage One to help work up proposals.   

Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported over 30,000 projects, allocating £4.5billion across the UK.  Website: www.hlf.org.uk.

English Heritage

English Heritage is the Government’s statutory advisor on the historic environment.  It provides advice on how best to conserve England’s heritage for the benefit of everyone.  While most of England’s heritage is in private hands, it works with all who come into contact with it - landowners, businesses, planners and developers, national, regional and local government, the Third Sector, local communities and the general public -  to help them understand, value, care for and enjoy England’s historic environment.

It is also entrusted with the custodianship of over 400 sites and monuments which together form the national collection of built and archaeological heritage. These include some of the most important monuments of human history such as Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall.  Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk

 

Press Release: St Mary the Virgin, Westmill

 

ENGLISH HERITAGE GRANT OF £99,000

 

Monday 27th February 2012

The church of St Mary the Virgin situated in the heart of the village of Westmill is of Saxon origin and is Grade II* listed.  Within the building are housed many fine architectural features which are worthy of preservation and protection.

Last May an investigation was carried out as to the state of the Church roof.  It was found to be in great need of repair.  The last extensive works carried out were in 1870.   The amount of money required to carry out the repairs being in the region of £150,000.

In June of last year we applied to English Heritage (who administer funds on behalf of the Heritage Lottery Fund) for a grant and are delighted to say that we have received an offer of £99,000 towards the necessary work to the roof.  We are now able to commence Stage I of the grant which is the development plan.  Stage II, the actual structural repair work, can commence once Stage 1 is complete.

Since the initial estimate last May, a more detailed costing has been calculated and our current estimate for the cost of repairs is £171,000 so we are very pleased to have received the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund via English Heritage and are very grateful for it. 

In January of 2011 the Friends of Westmill Church was formed and they have done a marvellous job raising well over £35,000 to date.  This level of support shows how much the village community values the church, and the size of this grant shows that English Heritage was impressed by their support of and enthusiasm for the church.

However, we still have a shortfall and will be continuing our fund raising efforts.  For more information on St Mary the Virgin and how to donate to the Roof Appeal please see the Friends of Westmill Church website: www.friendsofwestmillchurch.org.uk and also through MyDonate the online fundraising service from BT.

All thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Friends of Westmill Church and the people of Westmill for their great support and help to preserve our beautiful church for future generations.

Sue Phipps and Hilary Harding, Churchwardens, St Mary the Virgin, Westmill.                               

 

Braughing Drama Group

What a hotbed of talent we have in Westmill!

It may be the “Braughing Drama Group”, and there’s no doubt many from that village are the hub of an extremely committed and hardworking group of people putting the show together;  BUT – up on that stage I saw our” Di, John, Sue, Russell, Hilary, Mike, Jane and John behind the make-up, wigs and marvellous costumes. 

I’d (obviously) gone on the night that was in support of Friends of Westmill Church so we were the official Westmill Fan Club and perhaps could be accused of being slightly biased;  it was like an audience of proud parents watching their offspring and the warmth was evident. 

OK, there were one or two fluffed lines, and what if the Chairman got it wrong a couple of times? - the prompting from behind the curtains was pure comedy – and they delivered exactly what the programme said – an evening of entertainment.  Well done one and all.

Jan

Race Night

A Race Night in aid of FOWC was held in the Sword Inn Hand Public House on Friday 11th November 2011. 

The evening was great entertainment and added a tremendous boost of over £900 to our funds!

We are very grateful to Heather and Jeff from 'The Sword', along with Nigel, Russell & Winston for making the evening such a success.

 

Hertfordshire Police Choir

"Mad about Mozart" to "When I'm 64" add in a selection of "ABBA" songs, all introduced with some extremely funny and entertaining anecdotes and you begin to get the flavour of a wonderful evenings entertainment staged by The Hertfordshire Constabulary Choir in St. Marys for the Friends of Westmill Church on Monday 10th October 2011.

Well over £1,000 was raised towards the the target of £150,000 for the Church reroofing programme and with a glass of wine during the interval, all concerned felt it had been an excellent and rewarding evening.

 

Westmill Golf Society Golf Day 2011

We are pleased to report that the Golf Day in aid of FOWC, held at Barkway Park Golf Club on Thursday September 8th was a great success. Entry fees alone raised over £500. An enjoyable curry supper was provided and an auction held that evening, when all pledges have been received, will boost the total to a whopping £2000!

Our thanks go to Geoff & Heather from the Sword Inn Hand for all their efforts in organising this event.  We look forward to seeing them again in November for the Race Night. 

 

Westmill Art Exhibition 2011

Muriel Parsons & Mavis Backhouse, the organisers of the annual Bank Holiday Westmill Art Exhibition have very kindly donated £500 from this years funds to Friends of Westmill Church.

This is a very generous sum of money and we are thrilled to have received such a donation.

Many thanks Muriel and Mavis!

 

Flower & Music Festival - 9th & 10th July 2011

What a wonderful weekend!

On Saturday the village was buzzing with visitors to the Flower Festival and Photographic Exhibition.  Afternoon Teas were served in Sissons and a selection of other stalls kept everyone occupied.

On Saturday evening the Church played host to 'A Night On The Tiles', a musical extravaganza consisting of Classical, Opera, Jazz & Folk. A wonderful time was had by all.

On Sunday the Flower Festival and Photographic Exhibition resumed.  Afternoon Teas were served outside the Church and the weekend was brought to a successful conclusion with 'Songs of Praise'.

Friends of Westmill Church would like to thank everyone who helped in any way or attended during the course of the weekend.  We raised in excess of £2000 for which we are most grateful!

Please click here to find pictures from the weekend and entries to the photographic exhibition.

 

Marjorie Evelyn Smith

8th December 1926 - 17th June 2011

St. Mary's Church lost one of her most valued supporters last week.  Marjorie Smith sung in St. Mary's  Choir for nearly 80 years and was a much loved part of both our Church Family and the wider Westmill community.

We said goodbye to Marjorie on Friday 24th June.  Marjorie would have loved to have seen the church so full and her favourite hymns sung by so many family and friends.

Our thanks go to Sue, Alan and Sam for agreeing that Friends of Westmill Church should benefit from the retiring collection in memory of Marjorie.  We were overwhelmed by the collection of £951 taken towards our Church Roof Appeal Fund.

God Bless Marjorie.

 

Estimated Cost of Repair Received

We have just been informed of the possible cost of repair for the Church roof from our Church Architect.  This follows the detailed roof inspection took place in May (see below).

The Architect has suggested that the expected cost of repair will be in the region of £130,000 - £150,000; this figure is of course much higher than we had previously estimated.

At the first meeting of the “Friends of Westmill Church” we set ourselves a target to raise £20,000 during 2011. 

We are delighted to inform you that we have already exceeded that target. Our Bank Account as of the beginning of June shows a balance of just over £22,000. This is a tremendous effort from a small village like ours and we are most grateful to everyone that has helped us reach this figure.

It seems that we still have a huge mountain to climb. 

PLEASE continue to support us at our forthcoming fund raising events and continue to give as generously as possible.

Sponsored Cycle Ride 2011

Many congratulations to former Westmill resident Kevin Foskett (pictured left) who successfully completed a six day cycling trip from Dieppe to Paris and back.  Kevin (on the right) generously accepted sponsorship on behalf of Friends of Westmill Church and has raised over £350.  Our sincere thanks go to him for a fantastic effort!

 

Roof inspection

A thorough roof inspection took place on Monday 9th May 2011.

You can see some of the photographs that were taken by the builder along with commentary on the Roof Inspection page. 

Alternatively you can visit out new Photo Gallery page and find an album containing many more photographs highlighting the challenge we face.

 

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