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About
Friends of Fawley Church

Our Story

St Mary the Virgin’s Church in Fawley is one of the six churches in the Hambleden Valley Group of Churches. Sunday service attendance has been low, a lack of facilities doesn’t help and when the pandemic struck in 2020, the church closed completely. A group of villagers started gathering in our churchyard every Friday for a poem, a bible reading and some prayers. This wonderful event quickly gathered momentum with weekly numbers ranging from twelve to fifty worshippers of all faiths or none. There have been many dogs in attendance and on occasion a few equine participants as well. Prayers in the Churchyard continues at noon every Friday to this day and supports those in our community and around the world in need of our thoughts and prayers at the time.

 


A project is born

This small act of weekly worship created a wealth of new friendships amongst neighbours who had previously not known each other, and it created a shared community experience for all. Discussions opened up on the value of the ancient monument in our midst and how to prevent the church closing. These collective thoughts coincided with an imminent refund to villagers from a community broadband project. Subsequently this led to a suggestion people might wish to donate their refund to a church regeneration fund and the project was born. Friends of Fawley Church was soon registered as a charity with the aim to preserve, maintain and enhance the ancient church and churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Fawley, for the greater benefit of the whole community, and generous donations poured in.

Friends of Fawley Church


Regeneration Project

 

The DAC Church Buildings team granted us a faculty in July 2021 giving permission for work to transform the space. Fully supported by the local community, this exciting project was planned to provide space for church services and regular community events including farmer's markets, children and adult workshops, arts and crafts, yoga, concerts, book-swaps, film nights and a Saturday morning café.

Since fundraising began in 2021, a total of £450,000 has been raised through private donations and grants. The regeneration works began in April 2023 and were completed in time for Christmas 2023. The completed works provide:
 

  • A welcoming entrance, with large gallery for extra seating and a new portable organ.

  • A newly built kitchen and disabled-access facilities.

  • An uncluttered space in the north transept for small gatherings.

  • An improved chancel for prayer and worship.

  • Beautiful new lighting, sound system and super-fast broadband.

  • A radically-improved heating system.

THE PLANS

Regeneration of the church
Regenerating our Church
for our Community
Meet the Friends of Fawley Church team

The Team

The Chair and trustees of Friends of Fawley Church, along with our building committee, are all passionate about retaining the church’s heritage for future generations and strengthening community values.

Our building committee consists of Nick George, Rolf Harrison, Jonathan Hunt, David Napier (our Churchwarden) and
Julia Ogilvy.

 

 

Julia Ogilvy (Chair) is an experienced business leader, charity chair and trustee with a passion for social justice.  She won the Ernst & Young Scottish Social Entrepreneur of the Year award for her work as founder of Project Scotland and has been on the board of a wide range of charities from Tearfund and Buttle UK to the University of St Andrews. She has a Masters from Harvard Divinity School and trained in hospital chaplaincy. As she explains, “I moved to Fawley in 2019 and found a welcoming community but a lack of any facility to bring people together and do more to serve the needs of our wider area. This project, led by an enthusiastic and experienced group of trustees, enables us to save our church from closure and create a unique space for social action.”

Guy Andrews (trustee) is a writer and long-time resident of Fawley. He helped administrate St Mary’s Sunday school in previous years, still rings the bells, has provided a new organ and raises church funds with talks and concerts. He continues as the electoral roll officer of the Parochial Church Council (PCC).

Christine Collas (treasurer) has been a chartered accountant since 1976. She has worked tirelessly as treasurer of the local NSPCC branch and dealing with finance is her expertise.

Mary Forde (trustee) moved to the village in 2019. She has spent her career in mainstream magazines and interiors with experience in managing and running events.
 

Sarah Ronan (trustee) has had a connection with Fawley since the 1970s.

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