BRIDLINGTON’S Priory Church is in dire financial straits and the future of the historic building is at risk.
Running costs alone are now more than £400 a day, it has been losing around £40,000 a year, staff have been cut and reserve funds for vital building maintenance are running low.
Church officials have now launched a major fund-raising drive and are calling on Bridlington people to help save the Priory and secure its future.
Those loyal to trying to maintain the 12th century Priory Church of St Mary say they have been struggling for years to stop the magnificent listed building becoming a ruin through damp, neglect and decay.
Vicar, The Rev Adrian Cragg said: “The congregation are currently giving as much as they possibly can and that is why we are now asking for help from the wider community. We find – continued on page 3
ourselves in a dire financial situation, we have been struggling for quite a few years and it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up.”
Keeping up has meant some hard decisions. The Priory has cut its staff from four to one, as a verger, a gardener and an administrator have all been let go.
Although the Priory does have a reserve fund for building work, which last year provided £30,000 for work on the North Tower, that pot is now severely depleted and the worry is, if an unforeseeable major repair is needed, the Priory will not be able to cope.
The building receives no financial help from either the Church of England or the Government and is still facing a dangerous uphill struggle of ever increasing costs.
The only outside help available to the Priory comes in the form of legacies left to the building, but they cannot be relied upon for the church’s long-term survival.
The Rev Cragg explained: “Our congregation are ordinary people who are doing an extraordinary job and credit must go to them over the years.”
The church attracts around 130 people to its main Sunday service, but the Priory hopes to appeal to a much wider swathe of people above and beyond the congregation by inviting people to become ‘Friends of Bridlington Priory’.
By donating £10 or more a year the hope is they can at least stave off serious deterioration of the landmark building and help stop it becoming a ruin.
The aim is to raise money for the running costs of the church, things like heating and lighting bills and insurance premiums.
“These costs really are on a massive scale for a building of this type”, said the Rev Cragg.
The Priory will celebrate its 900th anniversary in 2013 and for most of that time it had been the only church in Bridlington,
The Rev Cragg said: “In its long history, the Priory has been very wealthy, such as in the middle ages, and also very poor. We now find ourselves in very challenging times.
“Some churches have large trust funds to help them, unfortunately we don’t.”
The Priory not only plays an important religious role, but is also used by a number of local schools and community groups.
The Friends of Bridlington Priory will be launched at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols being held at The Priory this Sunday at 3pm, and everyone is welcome even if they do not want to become ‘friends’.
The Rev Cragg said: “Helping the church is voluntary and we leave it with people to consider which way they would like to help us.”
To become a Friend of Bridlington Priory, pick up a leaflet from the church or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.