Piano recital raises more than £27,500 to help save historic churches

Michael Boxford
Michael Boxford

A piano recital in West Sussex on Saturday raised more than £27,500 to save some of the county’s finest and most historic churches.

Businessman and musician Michael Boxford - who has lived in the South Downs villages most of his life, currently in Amberley - gave a sparkling recital at Coldwaltham.

The gala black tie event will prove a massive launch to a three-year appeal to raise £100,000 to maintain the ancient Wildbrooks Chuches - at Amberley, Parham, Greatham, and Wiggonholt.

Priest in Charge of the four churches, the Rev Alison Pattenden thanked Mr Boxford, all those involved in supporting the concert at the Music Room at Champ’s Hill, Coldwaltham, the sponsors, the organising committee and the audience.

She said: “Elderly buildings require love and attention if they are to remain active focal points for their church communities.

“Repairs in keeping with the original structure are essential to maintain the integrity of the buildings and of course require both specialist materials and craftsmen.”

She said repairs were obviously expensive especially when viewed in the context of the size of the communities they serve.

“Amberley church has an immediate need to complete repairs to stone and lead work in order to keep it watertight. Although this work consists of mainly small items the cost is still likely to be around £50,000.

“While this is the most urgent requirement, all four churches in the benefice have an on-going need for maintenance and repairs.”

Saturday’s concert - which included pieces by Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Chopin, as well as John Ireland’s iconic 1921 Amberley Wildbrooks - was a sell-out.

Generously hosted by David and Mary Bowerman at their music room, the concert organisers were Jeff Feakins and Jacqui Woolgar assisted by Michael’s wife Pilar Boxford.

The event included a champagne reception and post-concert supper. It was sponsored by Mr and Mrs Bowerman as well as Graphite Capital, Harwoods Group, King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin.

This newspaper supports the appeal andwill continue to highlight further fundraising toward the £100,000 target.