A FORMER Greenfield resident is going the extra mile for the village’s Methodist Church restoration fund.
An estimated £50,000 is needed to meet the cost of urgently needed remedial work at the Victorian built, Chew Valley Road place of worship and community hub.
So, at the age of 62, Phil O’Brien, is lacing up his running shoes.
On Sunday, July 11, he will took part in the Leamington Spa half marathon as part of what he hopes will become a broader campaign to safeguard the church’s future.
“The Methodist Church is a special part of my life so I would hate to see it close,” said Phil, who was brought up in Saddleworth before moving to London at 16 to train as a chef.
“It has been there for the village all these years; now it’s the church’s turn to ask for help.
“Once these buildings have gone, they’ve gone. It would be a travesty if we lost it. What is a village without a church?
“I know there is St Mary’s but the Methodist Church is in the centre of the village. I will do what I can to keep it open.”
Phil now lives near Northampton but makes regular trips back to Saddleworth to see his parents, help marshal the parade on Whit Friday and attend church when possible, including the Christmas Carol service.
“I am a member of the church, I was confirmed into the church and I have always been part of the church,” he explained.
Initially, Phil wanted to raise funds for a new smaller, lighter, church banner that more congregation members could carry.
“Speaking to various people connected with the church, I realised how desperate the situation was,” he added.
“I just could not see how the church could survive. I was always going to do the half marathon but this made me more determined.
“I have other ideas in the pipeline but I hope this kick starts people into thinking we do need to do something.”
Methodist Church minister Rev Ken McNally, said: “The church dates from 1883 and we hope to be celebrating140 years of Methodism in the village in a couple of years’ time.
“Unfortunately, our church building is now showing its age. Remedial work is required to an end wall of the upper hall.
“In order to continue as a community meeting hub we need to complete work to stop both an ingress of water as well as stabilising the chimney, flue and surrounding stonework.
“Completing these tasks will make the building secure for users and enable our mission to serve the community well into the future.”
Pre-pandemic, the Church hosted groups including Brownies, ju-jitsu and a youth club. Older residents were catered for by coffee mornings and the Monday Club.
More recently, polling for Oldham Council and Saddleworth Parish Councils took place in the church hall.
To support Phil’s run donations can be made via cheque payable to Greenfield Methodist Church with the reference LHM on the reverse. Or via BACs transfer to account number 47502231, sort code 01-08-99. Please reference LHM with the donor’s initials and surname.