CAPTION: The Rev'd Sam Leach said: “It makes me feel sick just to think about it."

A Vicar Who is Scared of Heights Will Attempt to Climb Church Spire

Posted: 11th August, 2020

A Torquay vicar is hoping to overcome his fear of heights and climb to the top of the church spire to raise money for urgent repairs.

St Mary Magdalene (St Mags)  is covered in scaffolding at present for external repairs which were funded by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  But while the work has been going on, £7,000 of repairs are now needed in the kitchen which is a vital part of the church’s outreach to the community.

Church rector the Rev’d Sam Leach said: “Interior repairs are not covered in the lottery grant. Plaster is falling off in the kitchen area because of a previous damp issue and we are worried that if we do not act now we may fail health and hygiene standards.

“That would be a shame because our kitchen and sitting area is vital to our work in the community – the Living Room and Play Room which are open during the week.”

Rev’d Sam Leach and 3 church members will be ascending the church spire in Torquay

External contractors have erected 10 lifts of scaffolding and an 80 foot ladder to repair the tower and steeple. It is up this precarious structure that the Rev’d Leach, joined by three other church members, will attempt their sponsored climbs.

Talking about the 165 foot climb, Rev’d Leach said: “It makes me feel sick just to think about it as I’m increasingly scared of heights looking up. Even going up an escalator, I have to hang on to the rail. I’ll be either looking down as I ascend or closing my eyes.

“I’m not worried about my safety as I will be attached to a rope, I’m worried about whether I will freeze on the rungs and not be able to go up or down. Even if I don’t manage to get to the top I hope people will still be generous.”

He’ll be joined in the sponsored ascent by church warden Ed Williams (whose is OK with heights but frightened of ladders), Living Room pastor Petrina Jones and verger Gary Clarke.

Rev’d Leach said finding the £7,000 repair bill from church reserves was very difficult because of the financial strain that Covid-19 had placed on church finances.

However keeping the community space open is a priority for the church. The kitchen serves the community café called the Living Room which, in normal times, is open Wednesdays and Fridays. It is attended by many vulnerable people. On Mondays and Tuesdays it provides refreshments for the Play Room which (pre-Covid) is used by 40-70 children and their parents/carers.

Rev’d Leach said: “Hospitality is a key value of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It’s not about the building, it’s what we can offer the community and the kitchen is vital to that.

“For some people climbing a ladder 165 foot above the ground is something they can do, might even enjoy, for me it’s really scary and a personal challenge. I hope people will donate generously.”

The climb will take place anytime in the week beginning August 17 when weather permits.

Click here if you would like to sponsor the team

Further details from Rev’d Sam Leach or Claire Clarke on 01803 211868.