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All Saints church in Appley Bridge has welcomed more than 90 local schoolchildren to the church for the first time in the latest development of its Eco Church project ... with more schools to come. 

Classes from Shevington Vale Primary School and All Saints Primary School Appley Bridge spent the morning and afternoon engaged in activities focused on ‘Caring For God’s Creation,’ including sessions on growing fruit and vegetables, making and maintaining a new 'insect hotel' and making a no-plastic bird feeder.

Meanwhile inside the church, half the children were allocated chairs to sit on and half were allocated a place on the carpet to demonstrate inequality.   

It was suggested there are ways to help make life fairer by taking action to care for God’s creation and respect it by reducing waste, recycling and re-using materials.  

To encourage adults at home to recycle, children also made their own label to tape to a paper carrier bag with a message saying ‘soft plastic for recycling’. 

One of the young eco warriors said: “We all learned that soft plastic wrappers from biscuit and crisp packs  can be recycled at supermarkets."  

Mini 'bug hotels' were made by the children on the day from recycled milk cartons filled with re-used items including bamboo canes, moss, pine cones and cardboard tubes.  

Take home bags were provided for every child containing a kit to make a plastic free bird feeder from an apple decorated with sunflower seeds. The children were encouraged to hang the decorated apples up outside at home or at school for birds to eat in winter, when bird food is scarce.  

Parish Priest, Rev Sue Timmins, was delighted to welcome the group of youngsters from the two local schools: “When we were applying for support for our Eco Church project, part of our vision was to encourage young people especially to think about the environment, energy use and the way we use the resources of God’s amazing creation.  

“It was wonderful to see so many children in our church building and church yard - more than 90 from two different schools - engaging in activities that emphasised care for animals and insects, using less energy, growing food at home and school and understanding more about an environment that will increasingly depend on their future actions for its health and welfare."

Commenting on the work taking place at Appley Bridge, the Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Philip North, said today: “Seeing parishes embracing the eco-agenda in the way Appley Bridge has done is so encouraging and exciting.

"With the work they are putting in, they are beginning to see the benefits of the time and investment in promoting a planet-friendly agenda. I am particularly excited to hear about how children are being encouraged to step forward and lead in this work alongside the adults of the parish. 

"I would love to see more of our parishes taking a leaf out of Appley Bridge's green book and doing similar initiatives where they are. These activities are suitable for all settings - parishes in rural, semi rural and urban settings - so there is no reason not to engage with local schools and young people in this way for the benefit of all our futures." 

The All Saints team that welcomed the children comprised Rev. Sue Timmins; Licensed Lay Minister, Dr Sara Shackleton; Churchwardens Mike Tyrer and Ian Hunter; Project Manager, David Mapple; Youth Leader, Cath Rainford and Deputy Churchwarden, Mark Ashley.  

David Mapple led the work building the new multi-storey 'insect hotel' for the church and for the children to engage with and he was impressed by their understanding of green issues: “Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that this generation seems more in touch with the planet than we were at their age. The thought of killing bugs, even scary spiders, was abhorrent to just about every one of them. 

"It was both refreshing and sobering to listen to a future generation tasked with the challenge of rectifying the mistakes of our past!”  

Meanwhile, newly-installed double glazed windows in the southern and western walls of the church reduce heat loss and new LED lights reduce electrical power usage.   

All Saints has also sensitively managed its relationship with a colony of Pipistrelle Bats which has now been provided with bat box accommodation on the western gable end of the church building in the hope of providing a more comfortable and permanent home for them.  

All Saints Eco Project has also benefited from considerable and generous financial support from a number of different grant providers, including The Whitemoss Community Fund, The Bernard Sunley Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Beatrice Laing Trust, The Benefact Trust and the Peter Lathom charity.  

Next up for the All Saints Eco Church experience are a group of children from another local school in the area: Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy.

Captions for the above pictures:

  • The new insect hotel at All Saints
  • Some of the children and staff from Shevington Vale primary school with school staff and members of the church team
  • Reader Sara Ashley and Project Manager David Mapple with the newly-made insect hotel in the All Saints churchyard