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Stretton Walking Day launches “The Big Welcome!”

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THE annual Stretton Walking Day helped launch a new fund raising appeal for St Matthew’s Church called “The Big Welcome.”

The church already has planning permission from Warrington Borough Council for a new level access and a faculty (Church of England approval) for the rest of the works which have been costed at around £140,000.

The appeal was launched during the annual Walk of Witness Church Service, which then followed a walk through the village following the crownng of new Rose Queen Emily Blackwell, aged 10. She took over from retiring queen Amelia Coxon, aged 11.

Despite early morning showers, the weather stayed dry for the walk and the church fete on the local school playing fields.

Vicar of St Matthew’s Church, Revd. Alan Jewell launched “The Big Welcome” appeal to ensure families and people with access needs and the wider community are better welcomed, that friendship and fellowship can flourish over a cuppa, community and church groups can gather for activities and meetings, local people and visitors can come together in an uplifting and comfortable space for Sunday and special services (baptisms, weddings and funerals), schools have an improved experience during services and visits, while the plans will enhance the church building for the present and future generations.

The level access will ensure the church is welcoming to all and needs to improve the access for people of reduced mobility including those using wheelchairs, those with walking impairments, pushchairs, as well as pall bearers. The existing tarmacadam paths to the south side of the church will be regraded to rise gently to a sandstone platform which will enhance, denote and celebrate the point of entrance to the church.

Whilst conforming with current legislation, the level access more importantly demonstrates that the church is for all, as part of the church’s concern for all members of its parish and congregation.

A foyer will also be created under the tower, by moving the existing screen doors by the west door forward to the east side of the tower. This will provide a foyer for greeting people as they enter the church and can also serve as a space for other activities during services, perhaps children’s activities or as a “cry space”. The glazed doors will allow people in the foyer to follow the service.

A new screen door will be provided just inside the west door, glazed top and bottom, so that the west door can be left open during services – allowing people outside to see into the church.

Either side will be cupboards, one of which will be used to store chairs. A ceiling will be provided over this area, with an access hatch should bells require lowering.

The parish tapestry beside the pulpit will be relocated into the foyer on the north wall, which will give it more prominence, and acknowledge the church as being at the heart of the community. The cabinet for the Mothers’ Union banner will be relocated to the nave, being placed on the north wall between two windows.

The pews at the back of the church will be removed, and a new floor of oak boards created level with the surrounding tiles. Chairs will provide seating in services, or for other activities (e.g. refreshments, small group activities, etc.).

The pew timbers will be reused to form cupboards, and to create a table which can be used for signing the register during weddings.

A low level kitchen facility will be provided in the south west corner of the nave, with all the units below counter level. The kitchen units will enclose the space and will be fronted in the panelling from the front of the pews at the cross aisle, to blend in with the church furnishings.

Repairs will also be carried out to windows in the clergy vestry and choir vestry

Full details of the project can be viewed here https://www.stmatthewschurchstretton.org.uk/proposed.html

Anyone who would like to support the project please e-mail fundraising@stmatthewschurchstretton.org.uk

Retiring Queen Amelia Coxon aged 11 and her retinue

New Queen Emily Blackwell aged 10 and her retinue

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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