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Celebrating 50 golden years in Gamesley

Last weekend saw a big day of celebration as Gamesley Church celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Bishop Geoffrey Allen Church and Centre being consecrated. 

The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev’d Libby Lane (pictured), successor to Bishop Geoffrey Allen, visited last Sunday (20 September). 

Two years ago the congregation celebrated 50 years of Gamesley estate with a Songs of Praise and a community barbecue open to all. 

They had been planning the latest occasion of celebration for a while, but needed to adapt considerably to comply with the social distancing and other Covid-19 requirements.

Gamesley is a ‘daughter church’ of St John’s in Charlesworth which, in the late 1960s, had the vision to build a church building which would serve the whole community as both church and community hall on the new Gamesley estate. 

Manchester Corporation gave the land and Bishop Geoffrey Allen gave £3,000 from his personal wealth towards the project. 

The cost of the building, which at the time also provided the library and the doctor’s surgery before they later had their own buildings, was £10,000, and local people raised the rest of the money, at a time when the average UK house price was £5,000. 

The partnership between Church and local authority was seen as innovative. 

The Church owns the building and Derbyshire County Council are responsible for the repairs and upkeep. The last 50 years have seen many changes, in particular the adding on of the nursery complex by the DCC and changes to it in connection with safeguarding requirements. 

The vicar, The Rev’d Felicity Walters, has been campaigning through the time of three successive local MPs to get the building, which has become an eyesore, refurbished.

GOLDEN CELEBRATION: Bishop Libby Lane (right) back at Gamesley after 40 years and the Rev Felicity Walters (left)

Earlier this year circumstances came together for DCC to finally action the promised first stage of the work, renewing the car park frontage and the kitchen, work which, by co-incidence, started on the day following the 50 years celebration. 

The visit was a poignant one for Bishop Libby who grew up in Dinting and whose childhood faith was nurtured in the youth group at St John’s. 

Forty years ago next month she was confirmed at Gamesley, as a girl of 13. 

It was a service of Holy Communion at which Bishop Libby presided on Sunday.

Covid-19 restrictions meant that as well as Hands-Face-Space, the congregation was not allowed to sing hymns, although they were played, and were only able to receive the bread, yet it was still a precious time with memories from five decades being shared by Christine Clere, the longest-serving member, as everyone looked back with thanksgiving and looked forward with hope. 

The socially distanced picnic which had been planned to follow the service fell victim to the Rule of Six.

Discussions between the Church and the DCC are ongoing as to how together they can best serve the people of Gamesley for the future…for the next 50 years.


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