Local efforts to raise funds for a new roof for a beautiful 14th Century church in Northamptonshire have hit a high note with the help of a world-leading pianist.
A recital by Valerie Tryon raised £5,250 towards a new metal roof for St Mary’s Church at Warkworth, after thieves stole £100,000 worth of lead last year.
A capacity audience of 300 were at Deddington Parish Church for the performance by the former Banbury Grammar School pupil, who made her debut in Oxfordshire at the age of 14 and became one of the youngest students at the Royal Academy of Music.
Valerie, who is now based in Canada, played music from her favourite Romantic repertoire, with works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Liszt. She gave her time without charging a fee after learning of the church’s plight.
The event was jointly sponsored by Bicester-based independent retirement planning and investment specialists CMS Financial Management and chartered accountants & business advisors Ellacotts LLP, in Banbury.
“I was thrilled to play at Deddington Church in front of such a large and appreciative audience – and delighted that the event raised so much for such a worthy cause,” said Valerie, adding: “I spent some of my happiest years in my teens in Oxfordshire.”
She continued: “While my concerts have taken me all over the world, I have never forgotten my roots and the immense debt of gratitude that I owe to the people of this part of England who did so much to encourage me when I was first starting out.”
A total of £30,000 is needed for the new roof for the Grade II* (star) Warkworth Church, placing it among the top 8 per cent of listed buildings in England.
Nestling in fields between the villages of Overthorpe and Warkworth, the church serves a small community of 200 who only three months before the theft of its lead last summer had completed its first internal restoration and redecoration in 100 years.
Bob Langton, Church Warden at St Mary’s, said: “We are aiming to raise £30,000 to pay for a terne-coated steel roof favoured by English Heritage, our Diocesan Advisory Committee and Northants District Council, which is hard to remove.
“The success of the recital went way beyond our expectations, and with some new generous donations our fund now stands at £22,500. Our thanks go to Valerie, Deddington Parochial Church Council and our sponsors for their superb support.”
Bob added: “With a picnic jazz concert at the Manor House, Overthorpe scheduled for June 23, we hope to reach £25,000 towards our target by the end of June.”
Dave Marler, Managing Director of CMS Financial Management, which helped to meet the costs of the posters and programmes for the recital, said: “As an Oxfordshire business, we were delighted to have this opportunity to give something back to the local community.”
David Saunders, Managing Partner at Ellacotts LLP, commented: “Helping St Mary’s Church has been a wonderful way of showing our support to local endeavours. We are pleased to have been a part of this successful event.“