Scottish Parliament recognition for Moray church project

Bellie Parish Church
MSP Douglas Ross was given a tour by church representatives.

A Moray congregation has been commended in the Scottish Parliament for successfully completing a major refurbishment programme.

Nineteen cross-party MSPs have signed a motion lodged by Conservative Douglas Ross which congratulates members for raising the money over a two-year period to renovate the tower, clock and steeple at Bellie Parish Church..

It conveys "best wishes to the church and its congregation as they look on with pride at their renovated church, which continues to dominate the local landscape and skyline of Fochabers".

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead was one of the signatories.

A special dedication service was held at the 200-year-old church on Sunday.

Great pride

The refurbishment programme was completed earlier this year, thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation and the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.

The congregation raised more than £200,000 through a variety of initiatives such as its popular weekly Coffee and Chat sessions.

Mr Ross was invited to have a tour round the church by George McIntyre and the so-called "Tower Team" to see at first-hand the works which have been done to renovate the church building.

The MSP said: “The congregation clearly take a great pride in their church and they are to be congratulated for the efforts they undertook to ensure that this tower, which has been a landmark in the village for over 200 years, will continue to dominate the skyline for many more years to come.”

Mr Ross, who represents the Highlands and islands and is also an elected member of Moray Council, took part in a “Coffee and Chat” session which is held in the church hall every Monday.

“It was a great opportunity to catch with villagers to hear their views on the now finished project and to see many of the photographs which were taken throughout the renovation,” he said.

“The Coffee and Chat sessions have been going for over a decade and the group donated a significant amount of the funds they raise to the restoration project.

“I was pleased to be able to thank all the volunteers for their contribution to the project as well.

“I’m grateful to George along with fellow Tower Team member Alf Grimsley and locum minister Rev Morris Smith (pictured) for the opportunity to see the finished works."

Standing in all its glory

Joan Jones of the Tower Team said: "The work on the tower, which had a considerable amount of rotten wood inside, is now finished and has been signed off by the Architect Ian Fraser from LDN.

"It is now looking superb with the new lime pointing,new leading, the clock with its face lift and the newly gilded weather vane glowing in the sunshine.

"The restored tower,now wind and water tight, is now standing in all its glory as the focal point in The Village Square.

"We are hopingin the forthcoming months to get clubs and groups to come for tours.

"A Heritage programme has been introduced by having guided tours of the Church.

"We have managed to recruit and train 10 Volunteer Guides.

"We have to thank the contractors, Darroch & Allan for a very professional job and their excellent workmanship."

Informative leaflets have been produced on the history of The church, the artefacts, the clock tower and The stained glass Windows.