Canon Christopher Andrews of St Wulfram’s Church will take his final service next week before retiring at the end of August.
Canon Andrews has been rector at St Wulfram’s for 17 years but will be moving with his wife Christine to Bury St Edmunds to enjoy his retirement and be closer to his family.
In the second part of our farewell interview, Canon Andrews talks about the St Wulfram’s Save Our Spire appeal and what he will miss most when he leaves Grantham and the church behind.
Q) The past 12 months or so for you must have been dominated by the St Wulfram’s spire issue...
A) My goodness yes. I’m coming up to retirement and the church architect tells me we need to find £600,000 - oh my goodness. I have always said the fabric of the church is in a fantastic state...then this comes up.
Q) How have you viewed the reaction from the people of the town and beyond to the appeal?
A) The response has been unbelievable really, right from the word go. Even before the appeal was properly launched people out in the town and in the community were offering to do things. So it was clear it wasn’t just going to be us trying to do the impossible and wearing ourselves out. There were lots of people out there who I had never met before but, because it is that building and that spire, they said “yes, I want to help”. If we all looked up and the top of the spire was missing, wouldn’t it feel terrible and depressing? We have had small events and big events and to get up to £100,000 in 10 months was just amazing. If someone had said we would raise £100,000 by next July I would never have believed it.
Q) But there is still quite a lot left to raise...
A) Some of the big grants are coming in now - £272,000 from English Heritage - and we are up to around £400,000. But we still have £200,000 to go so there is still work to be done. That is quite a lot and half of that will be down to carrying on the local fund-raising.
Q) What do you think you will miss most once you retire?
A) It will be a combination of the people I have got to know at St Wulfram’s and in the town and this wonderful building. I’m fortunate to have been inspired by both. Those things together keep you going and make it all worthwhile. It has been a fantastic privilege to be here. I can’t think of many places I would rather have been. I will also miss the music and what Tim Williams has achieved these last few years. It is something we’ll look back on and think: “gosh, weren’t we lucky”.
Q) Do you have any advice for your successor, whoever he may be?
A) Or she!
Q) Of course. My mistake...
A) I don’t give advice but my hope would be that whoever comes will enjoy being at St Wulfram’s and being with the people as much as I have. It’s hard work, but it has been a very rewarding community of people to work with in Grantham, as well as St Wulfram’s, and a very rewarding building.