A PRIEST is determined not to let the pandemic put the brakes on his ambitious bid to restore a Barnsley church to its former glory.

Father Peter Needham says he would warmly welcome any donations towards the £50,000 project to renovate St Helen’s Church at Athersley.

He estimates around £15,000 has already been spent, with work including the placing of a wooden Calvary cross in the memorial garden and a new altar, door and candlesticks.

Next on the improvements agenda is the replacement of the apex cross on the roof and repointing the church on Laithes Lane, in turn allowing internal redecoration, with the Lady Chapel a priority.

In addition, memory and thanksgiving windows will be installed at the rear of the church, with members of the community encouraged to donate £20 or more to have a name or message written on the window of their choice.

The window deadline is All Saints’ Day, Sunday, November 1, and Fr Peter explained: “It has been pushed back from the original April date because of the effect the pandemic has had on events, including a gift day, which we had planned.

“Obviously the pandemic has slowed the project, but it certainly hasn’t stopped it, and we have recently had steeplejacks in to assess the apex cross, which requires urgent attention.

“Curing our ‘concrete cancer’ is also very important, because some of the internal decorations of the church are in a sorry state, but can’t be improved until the external work is done.

“The Lady Chapel, which can’t be used at present, will be a special place of prayer and peace, and any contribution to the project of whatever size would be amazing and warmly received.”

Fr Peter believes the new windows offer an opportunity to remember a loved one or mark a happy event.

“The idea behind the thanksgiving window is to celebrate a grandchild, a wedding or a relationship, for example,” he explained.

“We want people to have a place where they can come and remember and be thankful for the people in their lives, whilst upgrading and improving our church and its grounds.”

For further details, contact Fr Peter on 934906 or 07507 555850.