The Sheriff of Hull, Baroness Bottomley, has urged generous support for a project to place Hull’s historic Holy Trinity Church at the heart of the city’s exciting future.
Baroness Bottomley made the call as she hosted a reception at the Houses of Parliament for supporters and potential funders of the £4.5m development project for 700-year-old Holy Trinity.
As the Sheriff of Hull, the former Government minister is a high-profile ambassador for the city, with her work dovetailing with that of the High Steward of Hull, Lord Mandelson.
Baroness Bottomley, who is also Chancellor of the University of Hull, said Holy Trinity – England’s largest parish church and Hull’s finest grade one listed building – was a magnificent symbol of “continuity and stability” in the heart of the Old Town.
She added: “Holy Trinity is the oldest building in Hull and it’s a magnificent place. With investment it can re-establish itself as the heart of the community – welcoming the poor, the vulnerable and the needy, being a creative, cultural centre and, centrally, a wonderful place of worship.
“In such a fast-moving world, we need to be reminded of the older truths and certainties. In my judgement a magnificent but cherished ancient building can bring great spiritual strength, confidence and optimism to individuals and communities.”
Baroness Bottomley reminded guests at the reception of Winston Churchill’s famous statement that “you make a living by what you earn, but you make a life by what you give”.
She added: “Everybody in this room is here not as spectators, but as participants. We all want to do our bit, and more, to make Holy Trinity as vibrant and fulfilling of its purpose as it possibly can be.”
The Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Reverend Canon Dr Neal Barnes, told the reception the transformation of Holy Trinity was re-connecting the church with its medieval roots as a meeting place, as well as a place of worship.
He said: “Our vision for Holy Trinity is for it to be a place for the city and at the heart of our community. A place for people to come to for worship, to explore it and enjoy it and to be part of a community where anybody can belong.
“What we need is all the facilities to make that work – and that’s really what the project is all about.”
Dr Barnes added: “I want to thank the city for it’s a goodwill to us. We have had so much support from the city council, businesses, voluntary organisations and so many others, from people of faith and not of faith, but of goodwill.
“We see a great deal of generosity towards us and we are so grateful for that, and we are asking you and others to continue to be generous. You can help us by making connections to spread our message. But, obviously, we do need money as well because nothing happens without it.”
Work is well advanced on Holy Trinity’s £4.5m development project, with around 60% of the target raised so far.
The project will enable the church to replace outdated and inadequate facilities, become much more accessible to the community and host a wider range of cultural and social events. It will also create new income streams to secure a long-term sustainable future for the church as a spectacular, vibrant and welcoming place of worship and community use.
Holy Trinity Development Trust Chair John Robinson told the event what was happening in Hull and especially at Holy Trinity was truly amazing in revitalising the city and raising aspirations.
“We are taking Holy Trinity back to what it was in the first place. Historically, it wasn’t a formal place – the Nave was the community centre. It was where people met,” he said.
“It’s really exciting. Within Holy Trinity we are creating a big space – a space that the whole community can use, where worship can take place in a flexible manner that is appropriate for today and will appeal to everybody. We’re creating a space for music, for the arts, for events, for functions, for fun.”
He urged wealthy individuals to pledge significant sums to deliver huge spiritual, community and social benefits.
He added: “We need people to be really generous. It’s what you do in life that matters, not the money that you leave to successors – money is there to be used. So we appeal to you to make a major contribution to this project that will make a real difference to the city and to many people’s lives in all sorts of ways.”
The project is strongly supported by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and a message from him was conveyed to guests at the reception.
Dr Sentamu said: “Holy Trinity is doing great things to reach out to the local community and make the mission of the Church relevant to the daily lives of the people of Hull.
“The development project builds on that wonderful work and will ensure Holy Trinity remains fit for purpose as a magnificent place of worship and a welcoming, supportive home for everyone in the heart of the city.
“It will also create a sustainable future for the church and its good work, for generations to come. I urge people to support the Holy Trinity project generously and I look forward to dedicating the church as a Minster in 2017, to celebrate the revitalisation of this amazing place. May God give us all the strength to fulfil this vision!”
The development project includes works currently under way to unite the grounds of the church with the redeveloped Trinity Square, which is one of the key areas being renovated under the multi-million pounds transformation of the public realm in Hull city centre. This will create a wonderful new piazza setting which will become a showpiece events venue and gathering place during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017.