Dear Friends,

I went along to the Village Hall on Friday evening, not quite sure what to expect: I knew it was the Grand National Evening and a bit of an Astbury institution. But I don’t know much about horses other than which way up they go and I wasn’t sure as to whether there’d be much of a horsey element to proceedings. As it turned out it was a lovely meal and a raffle in which the 40 winning tickets were each exchanged for one of the horses running the following day. Yours truly managed to secure a mighty steed named ‘Backstage’ (mentioned three times in the race: twice as one of the slow clump of nags near the back of the field and once to say he’d fallen over).

The evening raised well over a thousand pounds. A huge thank you to all who put so much effort into producing a wonderful spread. It was announced on the night that the money raised would go towards a Disabled Access Ramp Fund for the church. It has started! We’re possibly one per cent of the way there.

The good news is that there is more than enough money to get the Access Ramp built. The bad news is that it’s in your pockets! But it has started. Nothing hard and fast is in place yet: there is exploratory work being done on the wall running away from the main steps and there may be methods of achieving the rise from ground level to church level that haven’t been thought of yet. If anyone knows of any examples of similar churches to St Mary’s where access ramps have been installed, please pass on information to the Rectory: if you know someone who lives in the area, ask for some photos and if you know any sources of funding then come on over for a cup of tea.

Someone brought back photographs they’d taken just before Easter in Italy of a ramp leading to an even more historic building than St Mary’s which showed a very different construction technique than may have been thought of in the past. The solution is out there – please help us find it.

The Psalmist asks the question: (Psalm 24: 3, 4) ‘Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?’  I’m sure he didn’t expect the answer, ‘Only those who can manage the steps.’ We will have access for all to this beautiful church.

Do think seriously about whether you can be part of the access ramp solution. If you have experience or expertise you could offer to a small committee please see me. I would value your prayers, ideas and support.

Thankfully, level access isn’t a problem at the Rectory, so I look forward to seeing everyone at May Day on the 15th.




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