The Saints’ Centre charity was set up to take over All Saints’ Church in Lonan.

The church suddenly closed in 2014 and the charity was established four years later in 2018.

It has taken eight years for the registry, lawyers and church authorities to complete all of the necessary documentation and we are now in a position where we can appoint lawyers to complete the transaction.

However, in those eight years the fabric of the church has deteriorated and the average age of the directors has reached 76.

Why did you form?

The church is built in the neo-gothic style and is the only public building of any size in Lonan.

The intention is to restore it so it can be used to serve the community of Lonan.

It is in a prominent position which can be seen from miles around and it has served the parish of Lonan for more than 200 years.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

All Saints’ has been a feature in the landscape and a meeting place for the Parish community since 1834.

It is one of 17 historic church sites in the Isle of Man.

Generations of local people have been christened and married there, and the extensive burial ground records the names of almost every family of Lonan and Laxey.

World-renowned artist and designer Archibald Knox was a friend of Canon John Quine, who invited him to design three features in the church 100 years ago.

The unique memorial to the hundreds of men who served in the First World War is the most remarkable.

This charity was formed to create new uses to the church’s traditional function as a focus for worship.

After lengthy negotiations with the church authorities, a scheme has been agreed which would develop the interior for a variety of recreational and communal facilities.

It would also continue its use for special services, which is available to most Christian denominations.

At long last there is a prospect of making this dream a reality, though much remains to be done – not just money, but commitment and dedication.

The All Saints’ project comes with a small budget, which is money left to the church specifically to preserve the fabric.

Much more will be needed to repair nearly 10 years of neglect and disrepair and to transform the building.

The charity has listed a number of activities, including indoor sports such as badminton and football, musical concerts and community uses for youth groups and mothers and toddlers.

However, the local community is invited to get involved and add to the list.

The charity has kept alive the hope that All Saints’ can continue to serve not only Lonan parish but also the cultural life of the island.

Without a renewed effort, the building will remain closed and may be lost.

The next stage will be to invite fresh talent and hopefully younger people to join the board and take part in the direction and management of the project.

The opportunity is there for the taking.

What is your biggest ambition for the future?

The objectives and activities of the charity are:

a) the promotion of the heritage of the Isle of Man by the preservation and conservation of All Saints’ Lonan Church, and

b) the provision of facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation or other leisure-time occupation through the use of All Saints’ Lonan Church as a festival church, community centre, sports hall, and educational facility.

The church holds three examples of work by Archibald Knox and has plenty of space for meetings, a badminton court, five-a-side football, exhibitions, concerts, and lectures.

What has been your biggest achievement since forming?

Since the church closed in 2014, we have worked with the Legion to organise an annual service each Remembrance Sunday.

Wreaths are laid below the memorial tablets designed by Archibald Knox.

We worry about whether the local community will support the event and every year the church is full.

Young and old, schoolchildren and veterans join us in a moving and joyous ceremony commemorating their families in the conflicts of the 20th century.

Every year, the same question is asked: when will this much-loved landmark reopen for the benefit of Lonan and Laxey?

Where can people find you and where can they donate?

As this is a ‘start up’ project, we wish to see what financial and volunteer support there is in the island and we also wish to hear from organisations and individuals who would envisage using the facility for events.

In way of help, we’re looking for assistance financially as the fabric of the church has suffered over the past eight years.

We also need help with ongoing repairs. There will be phased improvements to offer a good community centre.

We need help with heating and lighting specifically.

The expected cost to complete all of the work required is £150,000 but this will be done in phases so that the building can be in safe use from late spring to early summer this year.

Donations or sponsorship is received by The Friends of The Saints’ Centre.

To donate, enter the following details:

Nedbank Private Wealth

Sort code: 16-57-41

Account name: The Saints’ Centre

Account number: 62298190

If you want to donate your time, volunteers are needed at the church during opening hours, as well as to accept and control bookings of the facility.

The charity is in need of board members and a manager to ensure it will continue into the future and volunteers to administer the Friends of the Saints’ Centre and keep the financial records are also wanted.

Find The Saints’ Centre on Facebook under The Saints’ Centre Lonan.

If you have some time to spare or have any knowledge or experience that would be of use, and are able to help, get in touch with Tony Pass on 861377.

l Do you have a charity that does great work here in the Isle of Man?

We are currently featuring charities, for free, across our three publications.

We want to help those who may be struggling during the current cost of living crises and lasting effects of Covid.

If you would like to see your charity featured in this series, email [email protected] to be sent a questionnaire.