Churches Heritage Trust is a charity set up to maintain and preserve the fabric of our two churches such as the tower. The Trust has no religious affiliations and occasionally hosts money-raising events in the village.
The intention was to draw funds from the wider community who perhaps were not regular worshippers, but recognise the need to preserve the facilities of the Churches. For example, the CHT paid for most of the heating system and insultion in St Mary’s Church and for the repair of the lych-gate. Early work included laying a pipeline into St Nicholas; commissioning a stone mason to completely refurbish the stone mullions and sill of the window at the end of the north aisle and the refurbishment and protection of the openings to the tower and belfry of St Mary’s. The bell and cradle were inspected and refurbished at the same time.
The founding Trustees were Dick Hazeu, Jane Bunnett, Gwilym James, Derek Pinks and David Swinburn. Dick and David remain as trustees, now joined by Debbie Reynolds and Nicky Scott.
The opening fund raising event was a Flower Festival at St. Mary’s Church in June 1996; local organisations and businesses were invited to make an arrangement representing their activities. Over the two open days over 400 visitors came to the church, and, with sponsorship, nearly £1,000 was raised.
In the ensuing years a wide variety of events were held. In March 1997 a Music Festival was held at St. Mary’s with the Godalming Sinfonia, with a special guest appearance from actress, Penelope Keith. On two occasions “Desert Island Discs” featured first, the Rector John Fellows (with local celebrity presenter!) and secondly, Sandy Brigstocke. Three walking Treasure Trails were arranged around the local commons, ending with barbeques in private gardens. On another occasion, an car treasure trail covered a wider area.
Another unusual fund-raiser at St. Mary’s was “Our Village Crafts”, in 2002, when many talented local residents displayed and demonstrated an enormous range of crafts and skills. By far the biggest event was in May 2000, when “Music by the Lake”, featuring the Godalming Band and Festival Choir, was held in the grounds of Aldro School.
In the first nine years over £17,000 was raised.