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Bishop and Vicar take a leap of faith to fund raise for Rotherham Minster

St George’s Day 2024 now marks a significant date in the history of Rotherham Minster as its vicar takes a leap of faith inside the historic building, for the sake of everyone on the outside.

Rev Canon Phil Batchford quite literally took a leap of faith on Tuesday 23 April to launch a major £3m fund raising campaign – called Building Hope in the Heart of Rotherham – to redevelop the 500-year plus old building so that it can serve the whole community in the 21st century.

Rev Batchford was joined by the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, both dressed in clerical robes, to abseil inside the building 42 feet down into the central transept from the bell tower.

The building, which serves the whole of Rotherham and offers support both practical and spiritual, needs reordering internally to make it more of a modern space and to meet the changing needs of people who use it from concerts and exhibitions to choral singing for children and young people and food support for those in need.

Prior to the event, Rev Canon Batchford explained: “Rotherham Minster is an incredible building and one that lies in the heart of the place, and we need to ensure it is here for another thousand years.

“So, to do that I am taking a leap of faith alongside our Bishop to kick start the funding campaign. It is a rather more unusual way to raise awareness but I firmly believe we can do this with the help of local people, businesses and communities from Rotherham and South Yorkshire. The Minster means different things to different people, it has a special place in many people’s hearts and so we are asking if they can support our campaign in whatever way they can and be part of our evolving story.

“We hope local people will connect with the Minster including those who have not set foot in it for a while and those to whom the building is a new experience. Everyone is welcome to help us in the new chapter of our history.”

Donations are accepted via Rotherham Minster’s JustGiving page:

The Building Hope in the Heart of Rotherham campaign aims to raise £3m to alter the internal space inside the Grade 1 listed Minster including creating flexible open plan community spaces and great facilities for music of all kinds.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox, said:

“The iconic Minster building has stood for centuries in the centre of Rotherham as a symbol of the faith, hope and love which Jesus came to bring. Today that spirit is transforming the lives of local people in remarkable ways, and we want to ensure it remains so for the generations to come. This fundraising campaign is the only way to realise the full potential of the Minster to serve the communities of Rotherham as they deserve. I fully support the Minster team in this adventure and I am looking forward to taking part in this challenge! I urge everyone in Rotherham and beyond to get behind this campaign.”