SS Peter, Paul and Philomena Roman Catholic Church in New Brighton, Merseyside, also known as the Dome of Home, has won a national competition for its innovative audio tour which brings to life the story of the Second World War for local children.
The ‘WWII Audio Tour’ at SS Peter, Paul and St Philomena church won the Marsh Innovative Church Project Award, announced at a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on 26 June 2018. The church received a £1,000 prize.
A free WWII audio tour for primary schools and the local community tells the story of how this church helped people during the Blitz and how it earned its nickname. The tour was made possible following major repairs and redevelopment in the church to create a welcoming church including an accessible toilet, kitchenette, shop, and social space.
The judges commented: “This project is strong on community engagement, imagination, and innovation. We particularly liked the successful engagement with schools, raising awareness about local history and heritage and bringing generations together and the past to life.”
The Marsh Innovative Church Project Award is a competition to find the Christian congregations running the best community activities in a church building, made possible through the installation of new facilities or through improved access.
Five projects were shortlisted.
The awards show the positive impact that installing new facilities has on churches and local communities, and on harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers. They are run jointly by the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church building support charity, and the Marsh Christian Trust.
Judges for the Marsh Innovative Church Project Awards are: Luke March DL, Chairman of the National Churches Trust; Emily Reeves and Annie McCarthy, from the Marsh Christian Trust; and Sam Jones, Managing Director of community music organisation Soundthread.
The runner-up for the Marsh Innovative Church Project Award is Olly’s Friendship Room, at St Michael and All Angels Church, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire.
Olly’s Friendship Room is a large light welcoming space in the back of the church, heated separately, where the whole community can meet in friendship, supporting each other. It is named after Olly Roberts, a young man who grew up attending this church but died in 2012 aged 32, suffering extreme anxiety (Akathisia) due to an adverse reaction to a prescribed medication. A successful photographer, film maker and composer, he left money and equipment hoping to enable those suffering from anxiety to receive help.
The creation of a warm, comfortable meeting room for the whole community to use provides space for groups including a film club, astronomy club, table tennis and a baby and toddler group, with an emphasis on caring for mental health in the community by helping those suffering from anxiety and depression.
St Michael’s church was awarded a £500 prize.
The judges commented: “We were impressed by how the community has come together to save this small rural church. The church team is really serving their community and bringing people together, with an important message of inclusion and well-being.”
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said:
“I am delighted that the Dome of Home, a landmark on the Wirral, has won the Marsh Innovative Church Projects Award. The judges were so impressed with the way it engages with schools and raises awareness about local history, bringing generations together.”
“I am also very pleased that Olly’s Friendship Room was named as runner-up. This welcoming meeting room puts an emphasis on caring for mental health in the community, a vital issue.”
“It is inspiring to see the community work done by the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses.”
Brian Marsh OBE, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, said:
“We set up this Award with the National Churches Trust to recognise the excellent work being done by church volunteers in transforming their places of worship and to help expand their work in addressing local need within their communities.”
“We hope that the Award will help highlight the outstanding efforts of these volunteers in reaching out and supporting those in need.”