Campaign to Save Crumbling Ancient Shropshire church

Shropshire born radio presenter Simon Bates is backing a campaign to save a crumbling county church in answer to a vicar’s appeal.

The man with the golden voice will launch the Power of Love Festival – named after his iconic “Our Tune” Radio 1 show - in aid of fundraisers who need £30,000 to carry out essential repairs to a 12th century Shifnal church.

He will host a charity auction with a host of prizes including a box at the Albert Hall and tickets to the Royal Chelsea Flower Show and give an after dinner speech at the Park House Hotel, Shifnal, on September 4.

The four day festival, which runs from September 5 to 8, includes a dramatic flower show at the church with 40 floral arrangements from the county’s leading floral experts. The event will be officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant Sir Algernon Heber Percy and Lady Heber Percy at 11am on September 5.

A Country Food Fair of local Shropshire foods and produce will also take place with music from classic guitarists, jazz clarinet, saxophone and piano and St Andrew’s church choir.

Rev Chris Thorpe, of St Andrew’s Church, a grade one listed building, met Simon Bates last year when he performed the funeral service at Tong Church for his mother, who was in her 80's.

Simon, a former Adams Grammar School pupil, readily agreed to help the campaign when he was approached by the vicar for help.

“I’m really looking forward to a great evening with old and new friends and another chance to prise more money from both to help Chris maintain those splendid windows,” said Simon (67), a former Radio 1 DJ for 17 years, who now lives in Somerset.

Rev Thorpe said: “I performed the funeral of Simon’s mum who was born and lived in Tong and afterwards he said that if I ever wanted anything he would give his support. So when we decided to launch the festival, I sent him an email and he very kindly offered to help support our cause.”

More than 200 churchgoers of all ages along with other members of the town’s community have joined forces to organise a series of fundraising events to pay for urgent repairs to crumbling red sandstone surrounding three church windows. Precious stained glass depicting religious scenes are in danger of collapsing if the repairs are not carried out soon.

“If it crumbles any further we will lose the stained glass. The red sandstone is like a sandcastle and is coming away in my hands,” said Rev Thorpe, who praised the whole community for rallying around.

“Everyone has got together around this project, even those who are not churchgoers, to make it happen and restore the windows at our church which has been a place of worship since 930AD.”

For more information or to buy tickets for An Evening with Simon Bates, call 01952 291532 or email [email protected]

A full programme of the festival events is on the church website.

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