Over the summer, plans for the refurbishment of the retreat house have been progressing. The board of governors has agreed a full proposal and we are now seeking planning permission and listed building consent. In the meantime, we have been turning our minds to the thorny issue of raising the funds to help up realise our dream.
Not that we’re starting from a blank sheet. Over the last few years individual and groups, especially from St Helens and Houghton-le-Spring, have made generous donations towards a fund for a new lift – our stairway to heaven! – which will form the first part of the phased redevelopment.
“We have a limited number of ground floor rooms, and many visitors have asked us to find a way to provide a lift in the retreat house to get both them and their luggage up to their rooms,” said Fr Jeroen Hoogland. “With a significant sum already set aside it certainly makes raising the remainder more achievable and in response to popular and pressing demand we will indeed start with the lift!
“It is hoped that we will get planning permission by early 2015, after which we can commission the lift. We hope to have it in place in good time for Easter.”
We will shortly be launching a fundraising appeal to help us raise the £500,000 needed to complete the refurbishment. Look out for further details on the website and in future editions of the newsletter.