Philanthropist's high ambitions for village church
A PROPERTY investor who bought her village church to turn it into a community hub has said she wants more people to use it for events.
Caroline Foster snapped up abandoned St Faith's Church, in Belper Lane End, having visited the property in her childhood.
Residents were saddened after a decision was taken to shut St Faith's in 2005 and since then it has remained locked and silent.
But after entrepreneur Mrs Foster purchased the church, locals heard – for the first time in seven years – bells ringing out around the village.
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The 47-year-old's fond memories motivated her to use the wealth she had accumulated in the property market to buy, renovate and open the church to local people in April.
She has since helped organise services and shows in the building but Mrs Foster, of Duffield Road, Little Eaton, said she wanted people to feel free to host their own events.
She said: "I have helped organise the events so far but I want people to come to me with their ideas.
"These could be concerts, fashion shows, plays or theatre rehearsals – anything really.
"I would ask for donations towards the running of the church rather than rent, so people can give what they can afford. The idea is that it is there for the community; not a commercial enterprise.
"I'd love people to be beating the door down to use it as an events space."
After buying the building, Mrs Foster set about decorating and renovating it, putting in new carpets, rejuvenating the windows and replacing the electrics.
A monthly service is now held, with a visiting minister giving the sermon.
Mrs Foster said: "I have never myself been particularly religious but, seeing things from the other side, the enormous responsibility of actually holding services for a congregation has given me a new understanding of the Church."
Over the past few months, she has helped organise an evensong service and a mid-summer event. For this, a display of wedding dresses through the years was assembled.
Then, in October, the church played host to a harvest festival.
Mrs Foster said: "All these events were really popular. We reached the church's capacity of 60 people quite easily."
She said that she was looking to gain a licence to hold weddings next year, when the church will have been open for a year.
Anyone interested in using the church should call Mrs Foster on 07762 811284.