Group to bid for Lumphanan church

LUMPHANAN Heritage Society are pressing ahead with their efforts to buy Stothert Memorial Church in the village, with the aim of using it as a community facility.

The Presbytery of Kincardine and Deeside has deemed the Church unnecessary and the Church of Scotland confirmed that the building would be sold.

The Church, which commands a prominent position overlooking the village, saw the last service take place on Sunday (August 30), and Lumphanan Heritage Society hopes that the building can be retained for community use.

A spokesperson for the Heritage Society told the Piper: "The primary aim of the Society remains to acquire the building as an educational and cultural asset for the community of Lumphanan. The recent closing service held in the Church - which has been closed for years - makes one suspect that the sale of the building or buildings is imminent, so the society has "registered an interest" should the sale go ahead."

The Heritage Society has been in contact with other such groups who have successfully purchased buildings, such as Culter Heritage Society who bought St Peter's Church, which is now a heritage centre.

"Efforts have been made to discover how purchase and maintenance of the building can be carried out. This involved research into funds available for various public bodies and gleaning information from organisations who have had similar remits, for example Culter Heritage Society who acquired St Peter's Church ten years ago.

"It seems that the society should become a company limited by guarantee which would lead to acquiring charitable status. This process is already underway and the society has also developed a business plan to show how it could successfully fund the purchase and running costs."

The Heritage Society also confirmed that they have applied to the BIG Lottery Fund and the BBC Village SOS initiative which is inviting villages across the UK to come up with community enterprise projects. Six will be chosen to share 3 million of funding. The successful applicants will be decided in May next year and the chosen projects will be filmed by the BBC for a major BBC One series set to air next winter.

A spokesperson for the Heritage Society said that the Society thought the purchase of the church as a community facility matched the Village SOS remit of halting the decline of rural amenities and improving village life.

The Heritage Society is hoping to hold an open day in January so that members of the local community can put questions and ideas to committee members. They will also have a display of photographs and artefacts connected to Lumphanan.

The spokesperson added: "Unfortunately the planned Harvest Thanksgiving service had to be cancelled this year due to the volume of use of the Parish Hall, this underlines the need for additional premises for a young and growing community, ideally the church which has been lying empty for years. The Society is also planning to hold a Carol Service in the Parish Hall on Sunday, December 20, at 6pm and all are very welcome to attend."

The Society also recently held a concert by Durris Accordion and Fiddle Group which raised 250 for the Society and 100 for charity.

A booklet has been published by the Heriatge Society written by Lumphanan resident Jock Ritchie about his memories of Lumphanan in the past. The booklet has already sold over 100 copies and with some going as far afield as London, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and Canada.