THE help of local people is being sought to help save one of Ballymena’s famous ‘Seven Towers’.
Earlier this year, the Guardian reported how services had been cancelled at the historic St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland in the town due to safety issues connected with dry rot.
Now, the congregation is reaching out to the local community in a bid to lessen the financial burden imposed by the massive repair costs.
A spokesperson for the Church said: “Anyone who has recently travelled past St Patrick’s Church on Castle Street will no doubt have noticed the extensive scaffolding at the front of the building. T
“The interior of the church, which is now closed for public worship, is also a hub of activity as work proceeds to address the extensive dry rot issue which has been identified.
“Recent investigative work has unfortunately revealed that the problem is greater that at first thought.
“Work has already been completed on the Church tower with the replacement of all the timbers affected by dry rot with steel girders.
“This required an investment of approximately £50,000 and it is hoped that this remedial work will prevent any further major issues in this part of the building.”
The much larger part of the project to address the internal issues has now commenced.
Despite the fact that emergency repairs to the church roof were undertaken just three years ago the dry rot has continued to spread.
Significant preparatory work to protect the organ, windows and pews had to be undertaken before the extensive framework of scaffolding was erected in the main nave of the church.
It is expected that the contract period will be at least six months.
The total cost of the work required is estimated to be in the region of £400,000 although the final bill will depend on the full extent of the problems identified.
The spokesperson continued: “The parishioners are hopeful of being able to raise just over £300,000 and although several fundraising initiatives are planned it is expected that there will ultimately be a shortfall of around £75,000.
“As St Patrick’s represents one of the most important Civic buildings in the town an appeal is being made to the wider community to help meet the cost of completing this essential work.
“This year marks the 300 th anniversary of the original church in Church Street and is also 140 years since the current church building was re-opened after a major fire in 1879.”
If you would like to contribute towards helping to save this important building for future generations please contact the Parish Office Tel 028 2563 0741 (open mornings Mon-Wed).