St George’s Church, Donnington

St George’s is a Grade 1 listed church dating from the 13th century in a village outside Chichester. Donnington is a small parish yet one that has seen its population increase over recent years due to housing developments. This ancient church was struggling to service the growing community – its lack of toilets and inaccessibility was deterring many people from attending meant that it was unsuitable for community use. It was clear that unless action was taken, this valuable community resource would become obsolete and risk closure.

The parish devised plans to build a small extension that could house accessible toilets and to improve access without compromising the fabric of the ancient building. For six years the local community fundraised including individual donations, cake sales and sponsored runs (with one parishioner sporting a T-shirt with the slogan ‘running for the loo’!). They had almost raised all the funds required only to find that the project costs had risen. They applied to the Foundation to help close this gap. The Foundation’s Trustees have consistently supported projects that enable historic churches to continue to serve their local communities. They typically look for significant levels of local fundraising and could see that Donnington clearly valued its ancient church and the Parish Church Council (PCC) had exhausted other funding sources. The Trustees were happy to make a grant that would enable the project to go ahead.

“When I arrived in the parish the PCC had already spent years fundraising and consulting with the various conservation bodies, to try to find an acceptable design. When we thought we were getting close and had obtained all of the necessary permissions we went out to tender only to find, when the prices came back we still had a long way to go….The breakthrough came when the generous grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation took us over the line and allowed us to sign the contract”  Rev. James Cooper