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Issue:- 26 September 2013

Brighter future for historic church

AN historic Liverpool building which was once the tallest in the City and which has been derelict for the last 30 years; is about to begin a new era.  Significant steps forward have been taken in securing the future of the Grade II listed Welsh Presbyterian Church on Princes Road in Toxteth, so that it can be restored and brought back into meaningful use.

The project is being led by the Merseyside Building Preservation Trust; a charity dedicated to the restoration of historic buildings; with the support of the City Council. The Trust has acquired the building, which sits within the Princes Park Conservation Area, and has already secured its boundary with new durable fencing.

Now, the Trust has secured funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund to carry out a feasibility study and options appraisal for the site; a major milestone in breathing new life into the building. A team of professionals with expertise in bringing historic buildings back into use will look at the current structural stability of the church, and consult with the local community and businesses over potential future uses.

It is anticipated that the report will take three months to complete, and will help the Trust secure further funding for the full refurbishment of the building, in partnership with a developer partner/end-user.

Chair of the Trust, Bill Maynard, said:- "This is an exciting opportunity to begin the regeneration of such an iconic building in the Liverpool 8 area, and we will be seeking the views of the community as part of the appraisal process.  This is a true partnership approach between ourselves, Liverpool City Council, and Architectural Heritage Fund, and I am confident that our strong partnership will deliver the refurbishment project successfully.  Following the options appraisal, the Trust will be seeking an end user who can secure the long term and sustainable use of this important building. If all goes well, we hope to submit an application for grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund early in 2015."

Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said:- "The Welsh Presbyterian Church is an important part of Liverpool's heritage, so it's fantastic to see these major steps being taken to bring it back into use.  The building has lain empty for too long, but it can finally look forward to a brighter future, thanks to this vital work getting underway. Working together, we can give the church a new lease of life, protect its future and make it a hub of activity once more.  This is the start of a new, positive chapter in the building's history. It's great news for the local community, and great news for Liverpool."

The Welsh Presbyterian Church was built between 1865-67 by W and G Audsley. The pair are considered masters of Victorian design and the church is one of a number of outstanding landmarks they created in Liverpool.

When the church was opened in 1868, it was the tallest building in Liverpool, at 61 metres (200 feet). It was used as a Non-Conformist Chapel until it fell vacant in the 1980s.

Unilever UK&I hosts Skills Minister at Port Sunlight

SKILLS Minister Matthew Hancock visited the Unilever Port Sunlight site to lend his support to local young people taking part in a national skills campaign.

Following a weekend of festivities as part of Port Sunlight's 125th Anniversary Village Festival, Matthew Hancock took a tour of the factory and met Unilever apprentices from both the factory and R&D site.

The Minister also visited a Feeding Britain's Future workshop, where young people were gaining a unique exposure to industry skills with Unilever and its staff.

Mr Hancock's visit to Port Sunlight comes as Unilever celebrates 125 years since William Lever first began building the works in the Village. Today, the manufacturer employs around 2,000 people in the community and in the future, following the announcement last year of £40million investment in a new high-tech manufacturing facility by 2015, 1/3rd of Unilever's UK and Ireland workforce will be based in Port Sunlight.

Following the visit and skills workshops, Amanda Sourry, Chairman Unilever UK & Ireland, hosted a commemorative lecture in the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight under the theme of Innovation in Manufacturing – Past, Present and Future.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, said:- "I want to congratulate the staff and wider community of Port Sunlight as they celebrate their 125th anniversary. Port Sunlight demonstrates the strong heritage and history of the UK's manufacturing sector.  Today it is flourishing and looking to the future through the expansion of its Research and Development facilities, backed by the Government's Regional Growth Fund.  I am particularly pleased that Unilever has embraced apprenticeships, with 40 apprentices starting across the business this month alone. I wish these new recruits, and all the staff, the very best for the next 125 years!"

Andy Stickland, works director for the North West, Unilever UK & Ireland, commented:- "Port Sunlight is the historic home of Unilever and following the major investment and new jobs we announced last year, it's fantastic to welcome Matthew Hancock to see the site in action. I was proud to give him the opportunity to meet some of the young people who are the future of our company.  Apprentices are talented, ambitious and loyal employees and the scheme is a great way for a company to build their talent for the future. As a large employer, we have an opportunity; and a responsibility; to help develop their skills for the future."

Joanne Denney-Finch OBE, Chief Executive of IGD, said:- "Feeding Britain's Future is about helping young people to understand the rules of the game. By offering valuable training in areas like CV writing and interview skills, we want to build confidence so they can compete in the jobs market."

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