Stairway to Heaven in Bishop’s Waltham?
On 4 Nov 2018 Bishop’s Waltham United Free Church opened their brand new disabled lift, outside the church, to enable worshippers and others using the church building to reach the front door without climbing several steps.
At 3pm the grand opening was performed by Mrs Joan Muehlnickel assisted by the project manager for the work, Mr Keith Fry. Mrs Muehlnickel cut the white ribbon before ascending in the lift to the upper level front door of the church. The church is very close to an urban crossroads in Bishop’s Waltham. This meant an outside lift became necessary where lack of space and Health & Safety rules did not permit a disabled access slope. The church is in a conservation area so care had to be taken to ensure the aesthetic view of the front of the church was not disturbed.
Bishop’s Waltham United Free Church (BW UFC) is shared between the United Reformed Church and the Meon Valley Methodist Church Circuit. Ministers from both denominations were present at the opening. United Reformed Church minister Revd Paul Bedford and Methodist Superintendent Minister Revd David Moss both gave short speeches before the ribbon was cut.
Also attending were BW Parish Councillors Robin Howe (Chairman), Pat & Terry Wilson, Rotarian Malcolm Wearn, Tony King Fisher (architect covering planning and building regulations), representatives of the building works companies and Pete Wall, Church property steward, along with about 50 church members and well-wishers.
The cost of the lift installation at £15,000 was met by fundraising, donations from church and local authorities, BW Rotarians and the Parish Council. Keith said the most difficult part of the project, apart from fundraising, was adhering to the planning and other regulations. The lift itself was manufactured by a local company based in Romsey.
After the opening on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon everyone was invited inside the church to afternoon tea and cake.