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St Catherine’s new building is open
Vicar Revd Buff Forbes Stone in the middle, with Curate Julie Watkins-Wollner (right) and Antoinette Nyandwi (on left).

St Catherine’s Church in Stoke Aldermoor has a new home! The new church building was opened by the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, at a dedication service on 1st October 2019.

Bishop Christopher announced that the opening marked a “great day” for St Catherine’s and the Diocese of Coventry. This was in contrast to the sad situation many years ago when he received the request to close the old church and sell its site on St Catherine’s Close. The church family embarked on a long journey, moving into the front room of a house, then a school hall, and until last month a set of portakabins. They can now celebrate a new site on Acorn Street in the heart of Stoke Aldermoor. This brand new building serves the new Parish of St Catherine’s Stoke Aldermoor and New Century Park in Coventry.

Bishop Christopher said:

"St Catherine’s has been serving the needs of Stoke Aldermoor for 80 years. In recent years the congregation has expanded despite being housed in portakabins. It’s marvellous to see a new building  … that will better serve the spiritual and community needs of the community now and for generations to come"

Now St Catherine’s has its own purpose-built fully-accessible premises. Designed to be welcoming, it is open most of the week for visitors to drop in. The space includes a multipurpose hall where the church can run its Jigsaw Stay and Play groups and Youth Café, as well as holding Sunday services. Next to this there is an informal lounge/café, kitchen and toilets. Also there is a meeting room, vestry for quiet prayer and an office.

Vicar of St Catherine's, the Revd Buff Forbes Stone says:

"We are so grateful for all the support which has enabled us to have this splendid new building. We want it to be a sign of hope and commitment that God is here right in the midst of Stoke Aldermoor."

St Catherine’s partners with various organisations including Aldermoor Farm School, the local Credit Union, Coventry Foodbank, and hosts two other church congregations.  

Bishop Christopher dedicated the new building.

The Design & Build scheme was undertaken by Mayway Construction Limited, a Coventry based business with around 30 years experience including building and refurbishing many churches.  Building work took 26 weeks and was completed in September 2019.

Funding for the new building has come mainly from Diocesan LINC funds (for low income communities) supplemented by St Catherine’s own funds and support from a range of charitable trusts. These include Allchurches Trust, Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust, 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, Beatrice Laing Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Rank Foundation. These grants have been critical in paying for fitting out the new church with audio-visual equipment, equipping the café and informal meeting area, and paying for safety/security items.

Project oversight was provided by Together for Change Coventry & Warwickshire, on behalf of the Diocese of Coventry and St Catherine’s Stoke Aldermoor. TFC Development Worker, John Scouller says:

"The Portakabins had been due to be taken away in September 2018, so the project team were up against a tight timescale to design, fundraise and construct the new  premises. With their 30 year experience of church building and refurbishment, Mayway were excellent people to work with. They fitted the new building onto a cramped site, whilst ensuring that St Catherine’s was able to keep going as usual throughout  the construction period."

The City Council has allowed the portakabins to remain at the rear of the site for several more years. Amongst other things they house the Foodbank and Proof Bakery. The latter is a social enterprise giving employment opportunities to refugee women. Future development of this part of the site will create phase 2.