Church in funds mission after two legal claims
PUBLISHED: 18:06 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:42 23 August 2010
A HISTORIC church finishing repair work worth hundreds of thousands of pounds faces another major fundraising mission after being hit with two legal claims. A former lawyer who plunged 20ft down its 14th century tower has launched a public liability clai
A HISTORIC church finishing repair work worth hundreds of thousands of pounds faces another major fundraising mission after being hit with two legal claims.
A former lawyer who plunged 20ft down its 14th century tower has launched a public liability claim, and Gravesham Borough Council is also taking the church to court over linked health and safety issues.
Tony Cresswell was doing voluntary maintenance work on bells in the 80ft flint-and-stone tower at Northfleet's St Botolph's Church, off The Hill, Northfleet, in July last year when flooring gave way.
After being rescued by firefighters, Mr Cresswell, who is in his 50s, was rushed to Darent Valley Hospital suffering from a broken right heel and tibia and damaged lower spine.
The health and safety hearing was due to be heard at Dartford Magistrates Court last Friday, but was adjourned to a date to be fixed. Mr Cresswell's claim is being dealt with by insurers.
The accident happened while the church was without a rector - there was a gap of more than two years before present team rector the Rev Lawrence Smith took over in October.
Father Lawrence told the Reporter that the church had a very active group of supporters and they are currently around £25,000 short of a £200,000 target for urgent masonry and stone work.
"We had a substantial grant from English Heritage and a number of other smaller grants, plus money from general fundraising. Fund raising will continue."
Last month the annual parochial church meeting was told the church had made a deficit of £4,231 in 2009, which was met from reserves, compared with a £1,140 surplus the year before.
Members were told legal and court costs from the health and safety hearing would have to be met by the Parochial Church Council and are not recoverable from insurers.
To make fund raising even more urgent, they were told regular income from church hall bookings had been lost to the tune of £3,000 a year.
Mr Cresswell, from Sevenoaks, took up bell ringing when he retired a few years ago, and began carrying out voluntary maintenance and repair work on bells with the Kent County Council Association of Change Ringers.