Video: Sky dive to help save church in Ballinascreen

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In a fitting tribute to their grandmother, three young people are taking to the skies to help save her church in Draperstown.

St Columba’s Parish Church in Ballinascreen is undergoing a major renovation to eradicate a mould which had spread throughout the 125-year-old building.

Rev Carmen Hayes is joined by Catherine Bolton [left] and Jill Henderson [right] as they view the scale of the repair works inside St Columba's.

Rev Carmen Hayes is joined by Catherine Bolton [left] and Jill Henderson [right] as they view the scale of the repair works inside St Columba's.

Sylvia Taylor who sadly passed away earlier this year, was a dedicated member of the small Church of Ireland congregation, which comprises of 26 families.

Now her grandchildren - Catherine Bolton, Mark Woodward and Jill Henderson - are preparing to take on a sky-dive next week, to raise funds for the church, which has been closed for almost a year.

“We will be doing a sky-dive at the Wild Geese in Garvagh, next Saturday, April 5 in memory of our nana Mrs Sylvia Taylor and to raise funds for the repair, works,” said Catherine.

“St Columba’s was our nana’s church and it was a very special place for her and for us as well.”

Jill said they wanted to do something to help preserve the church - which was opened in 1888 - for future generations.

“It’s a beautiful church, and it will be great to see it opened again, but the work is costing a lot of money and we wanted to do something to help.”

Both girls, who will be joined by their cousin Mark, admit to being nervous at the prospect of jumping out of a plane.

“We have had no preparation, we just go an hour before the jump, and meet up with the instructor.

“And then, if the weather is ok, we are taken up and we will jump from 13,000 feet, so it will be frightening, definitely,” laughed Jill.

Rev Carmen Hayes, the minister of St Columba’s said she was delighted by the fund-raising initiative and explained the scale of the repair work to the landmark church.

“When we went to investigate this mould, we discovered it was like a cancer which had spread right through the right hand side of the church,” said Rev Hayes.

“It is the most unwelcome guest we have ever had here in the church.

“The repair bill has kept on rising, and the church has been closed for a lot longer than we anticipated, but we will keep going and we’ll get there with the help of wonderful young people like Catherine, Jill and Mark.”

To donate visit, or you can also write a cheque made payable to St Columba’s Parish Church and post it to Catherine Bolton, 3 Churchtown Lane, Killygullib, Kilrea, BT51 5UA.

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