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St Andrew's wins award after five year restoration
Parishioners at St Andrews Church, Kirby Grindalythe.
Just five years ago St Andrews was facing closure but now has fresh hope

The task of saving one of the earliest churches in the Yorkshire Wolds has earned parishioners a national award from English Heritage.

St Andrew's Church in the tiny village of Kirby Grindalythe is considered one of the country's finest churches.

The church was facing a bleak future and possible closure five years ago before local people rallied around.

Impressed by their enthusiasm English Heritage stepped in with grants to enable restoration work to go ahead.

St Andrew's was built in Saxon times but was restored in 1878 for Sir Tatton Sykes of Sledmere House who, with his father, commissioned or restored no fewer than seventeen architecturally important churches in the area.

A few years ago the church was on the brink of being made redundant and was declared off limits to the public because of the danger of falling masonry.

It was the local community that then stepped in. They organised suppers, parties, treasure hunts, a flower festival and a sponsored swim to raise funds for vital restoration work.

English Heritage made grants totalling £350,000 to help complete the five year restoration of the church which has cost around half a million pounds.

David Land, St Andrews Church, Kirby Grindalythe.
Repairing the ancient church also gave one man a new career opportunity

The repairs included major works to the tower, roofs, floors and stained glass.

'Wonderful spur'

Heritage chiefs have now declared St Andrew's the winner in a national competition to recognise the efforts of congregations and churches in securing the future of cherished places of worship and putting them back at the heart of the community.

Catharine Otton-Goulder, a fundraiser and grant co-ordinator for St Andrew's , said the awards was a "wonderful spur for everyone concerned". She added:

"There is simply no point in closing churches, even if worship in them can only be occasional and even if congregations are small. And it is wrong to close them. These churches should be preserved for the community at large and for future generations."

There was also good news for one local man, David Land, who has used the project to start a new career.

He persuaded Matthias Garn, from York, the Master Mason carrying out the work, to give him a trial. That meant David receiving a full three year apprenticeship and he's just been named English Heritage's Apprentice of the Year.

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