St Marie's OrganIn mid-March we launched our Organ Restoration Fund. This is to raise the funds for the Parish’s contribution towards the work to restore and re-instate the Lewis organ. To recap briefly, prior to the recent renovation of the Cathedral the arch to the left of the sanctuary was occupied by a substantial pipe organ. The organ was donated by the Duke of Norfolk and built for the church by Thomas Lewis in 1875 and is therefore an important part of our Parish heritage. It was carefully removed and stored before the building work commenced. The work to repair and replace the organ has now started and will cost £200,000 in total. However we have been lucky enough to receive a heritage lottery fund grant towards these costs and, in fact, the Parish will only have to contribute £38,000 towards the work. We hoped raising this amount would be achievable – if we all worked together, and would avoid adding to our debt to the diocese.

Organ photo 2In March we asked, primarily, for donations to this fund – however small, it all adds up, explaining that envelopes would be available (and they are now) at the back of church for these donations, that a record would be kept of donors to be published at a later date so that future generations would be aware of the generosity of this generation’s parishioners. Gift aiding any donation, if possible – ie if you are a U K taxpayer, increases the value of a donation to the fund by 25%, so a £5 donation becomes £6.25, a £10 gift is worth £12.50 and £100 becomes £125 – at no extra cost to the donor. We would ask you to consider this if you can, all you need to do is complete the details on the envelope – we do the rest, reclaiming the tax already paid on your donation and adding it to the fund – it really does make a difference. We are very grateful for the donations received to date, which so far total £1469, if the majority of these donations have been gift aided this could mean we already have more than £1800 towards our target.

Since the launch of this fund a small group of us have been discussing other ways to raise money – we are looking to provide a means of making donations online, for those who would prefer it, and hope to have a link available on the Parish website in the near future. We are also exploring the possibility of benefiting from cash back on any online shopping or other transactions that are so much a part of many of our lives. Details will be in the bulletin when available.

We have planned several fundraising activities, including social evenings and table top sales. The first table top sale will take place on 20th May and will only be a success with your support. Are you looking for an opportunity to declutter? Have the children outgrown toys or clothes – these always do well at these sales, or do you just have an eye for a bargain – come and browse and have a cup of tea. We will also need volunteers on the day, if you think you can help please leave your details at Cathedral house and we’ll be in touch. Please keep an eye out for the information about the upcoming events in the bulletin and support those you can.

A display is planned for the back of church, outlining the history of the organ, its importance to us and to others, and the progress of the work as it continues, we have been collecting and collating photographs and information for this. We also hope soon to have a visual representation of our progress towards our fundraising target.

Another initiative, soon to be launched, is the “Smartie tube challenge” which we hope will appeal in particular to families. Basically we are hoping people will fill a Smartie tube with 20p pieces and return it to us (we will have Smarties available to purchase to provide the tubes). A full tube will contain £12 – a useful contribution to the organ restoration fund. We are starting with 100 tubes if we get them all back full that would be another £1200 towards the fund. This is easy and fun and hopefully will be something that many of us can contribute to – again look out for further information in the bulletin.

We will keep you up to date with progress and events by regular reports at the end of mass between now and the autumn. From mid-summer we anticipate that the organ builders will be on site restoring the organ and reinstating it on the sanctuary and the progress will then become more visible. As you leave church today there will be an opportunity to make donations to this fund, envelopes are also available – please use these if you are able to gift aid your donation or if you would like to make a donation at a later date. Please continue to support this fund and the fundraising activities, all donations are welcome however small, thank for your generosity to date. Please get involved in the forthcoming events, which we hope will have an important social aspect as well as fundraising potential. If anyone has any ideas that could help us in this challenge we would be delighted to hear them or if anyone feels able to undertake fundraising activities of their own for this cause we would be very grateful. If we all work together we believe we can do this. Thanks once again for listening and for your ongoing support.