Residents vow to help save parish church

The "Closing Down?" sign placed outside Leigh Parish Church
The "Closing Down?" sign placed outside Leigh Parish Church
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Leigh residents responded in force to a call asking for the community to help ensure the parish church has a bright future.

A Visioning Day was held at St Mary the Virgin Church last Saturday after repairs to the roof following a series of lead thefts cost £100,000 and drained most of the coffers.

There was a lot of energy and it was a very positive time

Father Kevin Crinks

Use this historic church or lose it

The response has delighted church leaders as the community came forward to say they wanted the iconic town centre building to remain open and were willing to get involved to make it happen.

Father Kevin Crinks, the parish church’s vicar, says he is very pleased the venue clearly still means so much to the people of Leigh.

He said: “Lots of people came forward with suggestions and offers to volunteer. There was a lot of energy and it was a very positive time.

“People have overwhelmingly supported what we are trying to do and feel the parish church is an iconic, landmark building, which is marvellous.

“People feel they have a sense of ownership of the church and it belongs to them, which of course it does. We have had the response we hoped for, which is people investing themselves in the building.”

Fr Crinks says he and the other church leaders will now go through all the information and feedback and create three or four main topics to progress.

This is likely to include keeping the church open for people to visit throughout the day, for which volunteering rotas will need to be drawn up.

Fr Crinks is also looking at setting up a Friends of Leigh Parish Church as the cash-strapped building’s predicament has been made known far and wide.

Fr Crinks said: “One got in touch from Australia particularly distressed to think it might close as he remembered it from his younger days. We now want to set up a way for him and many others like him to be kept informed of what we are doing and keep in touch.

“We’re going to strike while the iron is hot and look at some specific projects to work on.”

The parish church is in the process of attempting to become more of a community hub, with Fr Crinks previously suggesting it could help to tackle major problems in society such as isolation and loneliness.