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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 August, 2003, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Chapel saved by funeral director
Pisgah Chapel
The 135-year-old chapel has been completely renovated
A dilapidated chapel has been given a new lease of life after its new funeral director owner invested 50,000 of his personal savings into restoring the building.

Pisgah Chapel in Penygraig, in the Rhondda Valley, was put up for sale after its small congregation was unable to pay the growing repairs bill.

But Paul Williams, who runs a funeral directors in nearby Ystrad, bought the Grade II listed building for 21,000 out of his own pocket.

And over the last two years, he has spent a further 50,000, renovating the 135-year-old building back to its former glory to be used to hold funeral services and to provide the local community with somewhere to worship.

But Mr Williams said he had faced some opposition to his plans after people wrongly assumed he would be turning the chapel into a mortuary for his funeral directors company.

"I have faced all sorts of criticism because a lot of people have heard rumours that I am going to turn it into a chapel of rest," he said.

Emma and her father Paul Williams
Paul Williams and his daughter Emma want to give something back to the community

"But I can assure people that this isn't the case.

"I will let my company hold funeral services here, but it is my chapel not the business', and it will certainly not being used as a business premises.

"I have bought this chapel for two reasons, one is to have somewhere to hold funeral services and the other is to give something back to the local community," he said.

Mr Williams and his daughter Emma have said that the chapel, which can hold 750 people, will continue to be used by the congregation, who have been consulted with about the renovation work.

"There is a congregation here who will continue to use the chapel to worship in as they did before I bought it," said Mr Williams.

The organ in Pisgah Chapel
The 900-pipe organ was completely restored

"And I hope that before long we will see weddings held here and other things going on, such as a chapel choir," he said.

Mr Williams carried out most of the work himself, only getting in contractors for jobs which he was unable to do including restoring the 900 pipe organ.

"It is my way of giving something back to the community," he said.

"I wanted to do something like this because after all in this climate a lot of churches and chapels across Rhondda are falling into disrepair and it is such a shame."

The interior of Pisgah Chapel
The chapel has enough room for 750 people

There has been a growing trend churches and chapels across Wales closing but Mr Williams and his daughter Emma hope that Pisgah Chapel will now thrive.

The chapel will be formally opened on Saturday 30 August with a ceremony led by Chaplain Phil Rickards.

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