Bellaghy parishioners in-‘spired’ to help St Tida’s

Mr Martin receiving his winner�s prize from church secretary, Jackson Frew.
Mr Martin receiving his winner�s prize from church secretary, Jackson Frew.

During the past year there has been a major repair project taking place at Ballyscullion Parish Church (St Tida’s) in Bellaghy, including the re-building of the top section of the spire.

The need for a fund-raiser inspired the parishioners to launch a competition for the public to guess the circumference of the granite ball which embellishes the spire pinnacle. This was quickly measured by the builder and all ladders and scaffolding were removed to prevent any further access!

During the competition period hundreds of people entered and on many occasions people were observed photographing and viewing the spire with telescopes in order to get a winning answer.

The outright winner with a guess of 1,144mms was Mr Paul Martin CBE. Paul is currently involved with NI Cooperation Overseas in a Social Development project in Jordan. Nevertheless he did attend a small gathering in the

Ballyscullion Church Hall where he was presented with his £75 prize which he promptly returned as a generous donation to the building fund.

The runner-up prize was won by local Bellaghy woman, Mrs Mary McKenna, who also came very close. The correct answer was 1,148mms!

The parishioners of St Tida’s - which dates back about 400 years - embarked on a fundraising campaign around this time last year to raise £250K. They received a Heritage Grant of £100,000 and have so far raised more than £100,000 themselves towards the restoration.