£100,000 for St George's Church, Wash Common

The new look St George's ChurchPeople living in Wash Common now have a warm and welcoming community centre thanks to the support of Greenham Trust, Veolia Environmental Trust and a host of other local, regional and national funders.

When it became clear the local community centre could not meet the growing need for a venue for events, concerts and activities, the Church of St George the Martyr in Andover Road asked schools, local councillors, community and voluntary groups, and local residents if the church could provide for the additional space. The answer was yes, but first the building needed to be made warmer, less damp and more accessible.

The Revd Paul Cowan, who oversaw the project for the church, says, “We are really keen that everyone locally gets the message that St George's Church is there for more than just the worshipping community. 

“It is now a fantastic, warm, accessible and beautiful venue with excellent facilities and we want it to genuinely be a gift to the local community for a much wider range of activities and events. People are welcome to come along and have a look for themselves; it is open to visitors daily.”

Tom Linley, the project’s Secretary, added: “St George’s Church at Wash Common has just completed the installation of a £405,000 under floor heating system and the laying of 500 square metres of limestone floor.  So another stage in the provision of a large new community facility has been achieved.  The work would not have been even remotely possible, for a parish church, without the generous contribution of £100,000 from Greenham Trust.  We are most grateful to the Trust and not just for the money but also for the good advice and helpful support that has been cheerfully provided. The improvements mean the church can now be used as a community building for everyone to use."

Other heat-saving measures have been implemented to further enhance the heating system’s efficiency. The floor has also been re-ordered at one end of the hall to create a performance area.

Other funding for the underfloor heating work came from The Veolia Environmental Trust, which awarded £39,000 through the Landfill Communities Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, which awarded £20,000, and the Maurice & Hilda Laing Charitable Trust, which awarded £10,000.

Other grants came from the Englefield Charitable Trust, Berkshire Archdeaconry, Payne-Gallwey Charitable Trust, Newbury Town Council, Allchurches Trust, Rivar Limited, Miss Lawrence Charity, Oxford Diocese, Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Rank Foundation, Donnington Hospital Trust, Gerald Palmer Eling Trust, Sackler Trust, Berkshire Churches Trust, West Berkshire Council. Members of the local community also made donations through Greenham Common Trust’s fundraising website findmeagrant (now The Good Exchange) where the Trust matched public and company donations and administers Gift Aid on applicant’s behalves.

The system is currently fired using mains-gas but the church has plans to install a ground-source heat pump in the future to provide the heating. This will use deep boreholes to warm water that will be circulated around the underfloor heating system. The heat pump will be powered by the 129 solar panels mounted on the church’s roof. Work has started to fundraise for this green technology.

The new performance areaTo complete the new community facility, part of the church building has to be glazed-off to create a new community meeting room and a renewable energy heating system has to be installed to extract heat from the ground, involving the drilling of 5 x 150 metre deep boreholes. It is a delight to report that there has been an instant response to the improved facilities, with a number of local community groups making enquiries and bookings, and we are confident that the community usage will grow and grow.  Much has been achieved but there is a little way still to go, in order to fully realise the original vision of a large facility that is a gift to the whole community”.

Greenham Trust's Chris Boulton said “St George’s Church is one of over 100 projects that the Trust has or will be supporting as part of its ongoing Community Buildings Improvement Programme. We have so far committed or paid out £3.8m to assist the refurbishment or replacement of village halls, sports and community spaces. Community projects like these are so crucial to the cohesion and development of local communities which is why the Trust has placed it at the heart of its funding programme and will continue to do so.”