the church at Alkmaar (NL)

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I often get asked what my work with churches involves on a day-to-day basis, and the truth is that no two days are ever the same and that there isn't one day that could be said to be representative of all the others. That is how I like it - doing the same thing day in, day out, would drive me to despair in no time! One day I might be delivering hands-on maintenance training, the next I might be 40m up a church spire, talking at a conference, writing a grant application or carrying out some historical research. As a partial answer to the question I've put together a selection of my "favourite" projects so far which illustrate aspects of this fascinating work. At the bottom of the page you'll find links to some of the resources and presentations I've put together over the last ten years.

Wavertree, St. Bridget & St. Thomas (SBT)

This is the church in which I was baptised by the late Rev. Peter Pritchard in July 1971. It was here, as a child, that I (inadvertently) launched my first church fundraising project: when it was announced that there was dry rot in the porch I drew a large picture of the church with the words "SAVE OUR CHURCH" above. It was quite a nice drawing but somehow I had got the vertical lines out of true which gave the impression that the church was leaning over about ten degrees and therefore very much on its way towards falling down! The drawing gained pride of place on the church noticeboard and - with or without its help, who can say? - the money was raised and the dry rot was dealt with.

Fast forward now to 2014 by which time I was working for the Diocese of Liverpool and the fortunes of SBT's parish - once a decent Working Class community but nowadays hollowed out by grasping private landlords milking the student market for their personal gain - had turned downwards such that it was firmly in the bottom 5% nationally on the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) scale. The church, under the leadership of Rev. Bill Sanders, had a great heart for serving the community, particularly around helping older people and those with mental health difficulties, but the money required to refurbish the rainwater goods was not there. The beautiful Italianate building was at risk from water ingress as a result. Could I help?

It's not often in my experience that a Conservative government does anything good, but it happened in November 2014 when George Osborne announced the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund. This offered grants of up to £100,000 towards the repair of roofs and rainwater goods albeit with a hideously tight application timetable of about eight weeks, two of which covered the Christmas and New Year holidays. Working with Architect Peter Williamson, I put together a proposal to refurbish the rainwater goods and wrote an application for £99,500 to the Roof Repair Fund to finance it. The application was successful although for various reasons it was to be 2016 before the work got under way with me acting as Project Manager for the client. Contractor Heritage Conservation & Restoration did an excellent job and the refurbished gutters, hoppers and downspouts should serve the church well for the next three or four decades. In 2022 SBT will celebrate its 150th birthday.

UPDATED June 2022 - All material is © COPYRIGHT Ian Simpson. Note that older material on this or external sites may contain out-of-date contact details for Ian - always use the Contact page on this site to be sure!