50 Years of The Church of the Ascension
The Church of the Ascension in Woolston was consecrated and opened its doors for the first time in May 1970. This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church. In January 2020 we embark upon an ambitious project, generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, to see the building restored and it back at the heart of the Woolston community.
On this page you can read about the latest update on the project and keep up to date with our progress…
5th January 2021
What a fantastic November and December we have had!
The building work is now complete, with just a few minor works outstanding. Many people who have walked past the outside of The Ascension have commented on how smart the building is now looking. We also have a new boiler, and the temperature difference inside the building is definitely noticeable, even in the current cold weather we are experiencing.
We are thankful too for everyone’s support for our events in the run up to Christmas. After the frustrations of not being able to do very much all year because of Coronavirus restrictions it was a joy to be able to do some of the things we had hoped to do in December. The highlight was of course the Christmas tree on The Green outside of The Ascension. The tree and hand made lanterns were lit on 27th November and have continued to glow. It’s great to have been able to have this light shinning in such challenging times!
We were also able to take Experience Christmas into Fox Wood School so that the children could have a safe and creative way of exploring the Christmas story.
On 12th and 13th December you may have seen families searching Woolston for nativity characters. They were taking part in our treasure hunt.
Our final special event was to sing carols around the Christmas tree on 22nd December. So many Christmas events that we are all familiar with did not take place this year, so it was a really joyful opportunity to actually be able to sing Christmas carols.
As we enter a new lockdown we will once again be looking at our heritage engagement events and we will be trying hard to develop some activities suitable for lockdown, and future tier restrictions.
8th October 2020
Mather and Ellis have now been on site for a month, and there’s been lots of progress. Most notable, for those who have ventured inside the building, is the new boiler. It is definitely warmer and more efficient than the old one!
The windows are going in, the wall on the ramp has been rebuilt, and many of the concrete repairs have been completed. Scaffolding currently surrounds the Tower, and it will be a few weeks yet until we see the results of the work there.
Restoring the physical building is wonderful. However, this 50th Anniversary project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is about so much more than the physical building. It’s about restoring life to The Ascension. Life needs people, not bricks and mortar. The impact of Covid on our Heritage Engagement Events has been significant. Restrictions have been in place for much of the project, and even since the easing of restrictions people are still being very cautious about leaving their home. It is with a heavy heart we have therefore put the Popup Cinema on hold. However, we are working on some exciting outdoor community events in the run up to Christmas.
15th September 2020
Last week saw the main contractors, Mather and Ellis set up their site at The Ascension. Since then they have been carrying out preparatory works, which has included jet washing the entire outside of the building – that makes a massive difference in itself! The boiler will be removed this week, with a new boiler installed within two weeks; we’ll have a warm winter this year! The glass for the new windows is on order, and as soon as that arrives the new windows will start to go in.
Our heritage engagement activities have also finally been able to begin! With our Pop Up Cinema now open! August saw screenings of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Grease and Trolls on Tour. Tickets for September for The Greatest Showman and The Lorax are now on sale. On 26th September we will be opening the doors as part of the month of Heritage Open Days. There will be lots of photographs and artefacts from the history of The Ascension on display. Entry to our exhibition on Saturday 26th September is completely free.
We are signed up to We’re Good to Go, a Visit Britain industry standard that says we have taken the necessary steps to open and run our activities safely.
12th August 2020
Coronavirus definitely slowed us down, but now it feels like things are picking up pace!
Those of you who have passed the church in recent days will notice some of the windows are partially boarded up. This is so that the contractors can prepare the new windows off site, ready for the commencement of building work on 7th September. The work is likely to take around 12 weeks once the builders are on site, but we will be able to use the building throughout the works.
The jewel in the crown of our Heritage Engagement Activities was our Pop Up Cinema. That launches with the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Saturday 15th August. Full details of our cinema listings and ticket bookings are available on Eventbrite.
Making the most of the vast green space around The Ascension, we have a Picnic on the Green, arranged for Saturday 22nd August. Socially distanced activities include a quiz, bingo and treasure hunt. Tickets are also available on Eventbrite.
30th June 2020
It was wonderful to see so many people engage with The Ascension for our 50th birthday celebrations last month. 200 children’s party bags and 200 adults more tea vicar packs were collected from outside of church by members of the local community. If you take a look at our Facebook page you will see some examples of the party hats and cards the children made with the contents of their party bags.
Our birthday fundraising campaign has also done well, and passed our target of £2,500 we needed in donations. However, with no event income coming in at the moment there is still a need to raise more (£7,500 was due to come in from events). Thank you to everyone who has given so far!
As we look ahead, we expect to be able to appoint the main contractors for the building works within the next few weeks. This means that it shouldn’t be too long before building work starts, which is fantastic news.
Government restrictions also begin to be eased, which means we can now start to plan some of the events we had planned. We expect these events to look different, however it will be wonderful to be able to open the doors of The Ascension once again and to welcome our community to come inside.
20th May 2020
Tomorrow we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the consecration of The Church of the Ascension! The celebrations will be very different to those we have been planning for months, they will be more creative, but no less special.
It is our hope that when larger public gatherings are able to happen again we will be able to put on at least some of the events we had planned. However, for now the party goes on, just in a different way!
Here are the details of all our celebrations:
10am onwards Live on Facebook
This is the video where lots of you, and others, will be sharing your birthday cheers.
All day, and for several weeks
Photographs from the building and consecration of The Ascension will be on display on the walls outside of church.
From 11am until they run out!
Party bags for children and More Tea Vicar packs for adults will be available to collect from outside of church. They also contain a special commemorative postcard.
Ascension Day Service
7pm on Facebook Live
A service of celebration, giving thanks for our church.
After Service Coffee
7.45pm on Zoom
Bring your own coffee* and cake, and enjoy a time of chat and fellowship with others. (*or other beverage of choice!)
Our events would have raised a substantial contribution towards the £9,000 we need to raise in addition to the generous support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Whilst times are tough for many people at the moment, please, if you are able to we would be grateful of a donation towards the 50th Anniversary project to restore The Ascension and secure its future for future generations. Donations can be made through our People’s Fundraising Page.
As we approach the month on which we celebrate the 50thAnniversary of the consecration of The Church of the Ascension, we continue to find ourselves in very strange times.
The anticipation and excitement we had for this project when it was announced in January feels to have been put on hold, and almost all the plans we had have changed in some way.
Our Architect has begun to invite expressions of interest from contractors. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus restrictions many of these firms are temporarily closed. This will inevitably delay the return of expressions of interest and the subsequent start of building works. We therefore wait for an easing of the lockdown.
Whilst it is sad that we will not be holding our festival weekend from 21-24 May 2020, we have continued to engage with the local community. Nickie, our Heritage Engagement Officer, has been busy this month going through a large box of photographs and artefacts. Some of these photographs have been posted on our Facebook page, and have acted to encourage people to share their own memories of The Ascension. Weekly story times online have also taken place, retelling classic Sunday School stories and children’s stories from the 1970s.
If you have photographs or memories about The Ascension, from any of the last five decades, you would like to share please email them to Nickie.
As we move on into May, plans are afoot to celebrate the 50thAnniversary in some different and creative ways. We will not be holding a large public gathering as planned, but we will be turning the outside of The Ascension into an outdoor gallery for people to view whilst out on their daily permitted exercise. There will also be a special video premiered on Ascension Day, Thursday 21stMay, to celebrate the 50thAnniversary.
Financially, the project will struggle because of the lack of event income. Whilst we hope some income will be generated through events when they are able to take place, we are doubtful that we will raise the full amount required. In the next few weeks we will therefore be launching an online giving campaign, inviting people to give a birthday gift to The Ascension.
As we move on into May, we are hopeful that some of the government restrictions will be eased slightly. As this happens our plans will change accordingly, and we promise you we will make the most of every possible opportunity we can, whilst also ensuring we keep people safe, protect the NHS and help to save lives.
29th March 2020
So much has changed in just a month! As you will be aware, Coronavirus has changed the plans of many things that were due to take place this year, and especially in April, May and June.
With the social distancing restrictions in place, for at least 12 weeks, and the likelihood of further guidance on our social gatherings and interactions beyond that, we have unfortunately taken the decision to put the Festival Weekend on hold. It was due to take place from 21-24 May 2020, but we want this to be a big celebration for the local community, and that simply wouldn’t be possible in the current circumstances.
So, we have a new plan! The festival style celebrations will still take place, but at a date in the future when things are more settled. In the meantime, we will be holding regular story times, with stories from the 1970s and Sunday School style stories on Facebook. We will also be running art and creative writing competitions that will feed into the festival weekend. And, we will be unearthing a box full of photograph memories to post online. All of these new initiatives are intended to help the local community engage with The Ascension as a heritage and community asset from the comfort of our own homes.
We didn’t want to let 21st May (Ascension Day) go by without marking it in some way. So, we are coming up with a creative way that we can have a VIRTUAL PARTY online. We’re working on the details, but as soon as we know more we will post details here.
Plans and preparations for the building work continue, and with the support of our Architects we are about to start inviting expressions of interest. There may also be some delays to the building work because of coronavirus, but until we have appointed a main contractor it is impossible to know.
27th February 2020
The PCC, Heritage Sub Committee, and I have been working hard behind the scenes to move the project forward. Each month we will provide an update on our National Lottery Heritage Project.
What happened in January and February…
- We announced the news of the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant in church, on our website and Facebook, and through press releases to local media.
- We advertised for a Heritage Engagement Officer, received 12 applications, and after interviewing appointed Nickie Blondon.
- Nickie began work with us on 24th February.
- A member of staff from Fox Wood School has visited to make plans for work experience to start.
- We held a very successful open meeting which saw 40 people attend to find out how they can get involved.
- Three contractors have visited to provide quotes for the replacement boiler.
- A specialist contractor has visited to draw specialised plan drawings of the church.
- We have placed an order with a contractor for the replacement of the speakers in church, for the pop up cinema.
- Other equipment required for events has been ordered.
- We have prepared our first feedback report and financial claim to The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
What will happen in March….
- Fox Wood School will begin work experience.
- The Architect and construction specialist will draw up comprehensive plans for the building work.
- Bookings will be made for stalls, acts and entertainment for our Birthday Festival weekend.
- We will start to collect memories and photographs for the history exhibition.
- The new speakers will be installed.
- A programme of vintage 1970s cinema screenings will be created.
- We will get in contact with those who have expressed an interest in joining the events or maintenance teams to plan what is next for these teams.
What you can do…
- If you haven’t done so already, let myself or Nickie know if you would like to join the events or maintenance teams.
- Give a financial donation towards the £2,500 we need to raise ourselves for the project. (The Lottery only fund 88%.) Please give what you can genuinely afford to give, but if 50 people each gave £50, or 25 people each gave £100 it would be covered easily. Any money we raise from fundraising events is counted separately, so we need to raise £2,500 from donations alone, and this is on top of the regular giving that goes towards paying our routine bills.
- Bring in your photographs, and written memories and stories. Tell us about any artefacts you might have that we could borrow for the exhibition.
- Keep praying!