The completion of the second phase of redevelopment of the Victorian chapel and school room in Gamblesby was celebrated with the wedding of local couple William Jackson and Nicola Hannon and a celebratory service the following day, led by Cannon Gary Gregeen, the Penrith mission area leader.
Spurred on by the ecumenical Mission Community and strong community support, the church building has undergone major restoration in support of developing outreach work, particularly among children and older residents.
COVID lockdowns have meant the children’s Christian club, Little Acorns, and services have been held via Zoom and weekly coffee mornings have been suspended.
However, the church has learned to innovate and adapt while continuing to raise further funds.
Following a successful “drive-in” harvest festival in September, the annual community carol service was broadcast and streamed live.
In 2019, due to a number of generous grants and local fundraising, £127,000 was spent on securing the external fabric and refurbishment of the school room to provide modern facilities, including a new kitchen and disabled toilet.
A further £95,000 was then secured to complete refurbishment works to the chapel this spring, including reroofing, repointing, replacement of damp plasterwork, releading of the east stained-glass window, secondary glazing, new heating, a multi-media system, new soft furnishings and redecoration.
It is also hoped to tank the cellar for dry storage later this year. While the internal character of the Victorian chapel will be retained, modern facilities and equipment will make the chapel available for a wider number of uses.
As the chapel sits at the geographic centre of the ecumenical East of Eden Mission Community, it will also become a “Beacon of Hope” as the local Church of England and Methodist congregations determine a sustainable future for ministry, service and outreach across the valley.
The organisers are grateful for the grants received, amounting to £198,000; for the £24,000 raised through donations and fundraising events; and for the support in kind from the Jackson family (diggers and dumpers) and Fellside Carpets (carpet/lino for the school room).
Grants have come from the trustees for Methodist Church Purposes, the local Methodist circuit, Allchurches Trust, Methodist Insurance Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, Cumbria Waste Management Environmental Fund, the Congregational and General Charitable Trust, Norwood and Newton Settlement, National Churches Trust, the Beatrice Laing Trust, Methodist Church Cumbria District, Rank Foundation — Pebbles Capital, the Hobson Charity, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, and the Hedley Denton Charitable Trust for their support.