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Residents rejoice as historic church belfry reinstated

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The belfry on a historic church has been reinstated after residents of the tiny island of Colonsay helped to raise £60,000 in six months.

Parishioners at Colonsay and Oronsay Parish Church did not want to burden the Church of Scotland with the bill, so they raised the funds themselves.

Donations flooded in from all over the world and the work on the new belfry was completed over the summer.

Now a rededication service is to take place on October 16.

The church is in Scalasaig, overlooking the ferry port and adjacent to the Colonsay Hotel.

Its belfry is a “bird cage” belfry, a stone structure with a canopy on top of the church bell.

The structure was held together by little iron bars which corroded and expanded to split the stone.

Kevin Byrne, session clerk, said: “I am delighted to report that all work is now completed, our belfry has been expertly restored, the bills have been paid and we are able to celebrate.”

In recent years the church had two large Georgian windows replaced thanks to support for numerous donors.

Mr Byrne said: “Meanwhile the vestry had been re-roofed, bespoke guttering had been made and fitted, a car-parking area had been created and various other improvements were in hand. Then, quite suddenly, a major setback arose when it was made clear that our rather elegant ‘birdcage’ belfry was in a seriously dangerous condition.”

A special appeal was launched and parishioners were overwhelmed by the response.

Mr Byrne added: “We are most grateful to all who helped us through this time of difficulty, and as individuals we think especially of Brian Waller and Keith Mason for the General Trustees, Rebecca Cadie, our conservation architect, Colin Rowan, our stonemason and the late Ian Maclagan who liaised with us at Presbytery.

“We have a great debt to all those artists and craftspeople who donated work to our arts and crafts exhibition and sale, and to everyone who supported it.

“We wish to thank all our private donors, and in addition we thank our dear friends in Colonsay Baptist Church, also the Colonsay Tourism Marketing Group, Colonsay Fire Brigade, Colonsay Estate and the Colonsay Bookshop, all of which bodies made special contributions.”

In addition, grant funding came from a variety of sources.

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