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World News

Sir Michael Palin becomes private tour guide to help National Churches Trust

by Donna Birrell

The National Churches Trust is raising funds through an online auction with prizes including Sir Michael Palin acting as a private guide around a historic church. 

The Monty Python star and broadcaster is offering to show the winner and up to three of their guests around Sheerness Dockyard Church in Kent. The 19th Century Grade II* Listed church on the Isle of Sheppey was gutted by a fire in 2001 but has been completely restored. Sir Michael’s son, Will oversaw the restoration and will give first-hand experience of the project including a lunch afterwards. 

The prize is one more than 50 being offered to help keep even more churches across the UK open and in good repair.

Sir Michael Palin has been a Vice President of the National Churches Trust for many years, supporting the charity in its mission to help struggling churches across the UK stay open and in use.

He said:“There must be a recognition that the local church still means something to the community. A recognition that English churches remain an enormously valuable part of our national heritage. For my part, I feel very strongly that if the idea of a community is to mean anything at all, then we must value the churches that are at their centre. Not just because so many are beautiful buildings in themselves, but for what they can still offer, as they used to offer, as havens, shelters, places of protection – places which it doesn’t cost a penny to enter, and in which it won’t cost you a penny to stay all day.

“We must not be afraid to try and use our churches, open them for believers and non-believers, and even ‘agnostics with doubts’ to enjoy. They are an archive of hopes, dreams, fears, skills, talent and troubles, which should surely be available to as many people as possible. They are a precious expression of our past. And it is the duty of our present generation to deliver them intact for the future.”

A private tour of the Houses of Parliament with the former Bishop of London Rt Rev and Rt Hon Lord Chartres GCVO, is among the other prizes on offer.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said:

“The future of the UK’s churches is the biggest heritage challenge today. The UK has some of the most historic and beautiful churches, chapels and meeting houses to be found anywhere in the world. But many are at risk of closing for good if urgent action is not taken.

“It is great to see so many people want to donate their time and prizes to help support us in our work to keep churches open and in good repair so that their communities can use and enjoy them.”

The ‘Going, Going, Saved!’ online auction opens on Friday 7 June and will run until 5pm on Friday 28 June. People can bid online at any point during this time at www.nationalchurchestrust.org/auction

 

 

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