MUCH of the community battled to save St John’s Church as a regular place of Anglican worship. It now awaits its fate for occasional services.

The return of large funerals has been offered, should an organisation prove it can be businesslike for community benefit during the ‘use seeking’ period, now due.

The consultations of Coleford’s Neighbourhood Development Plan in the summer proved how loved the church remains, four winters after the doors closed.

A clear majority wanted multi-use and worship and brought great ideas.

While housing and other developments grow, the Forest Council published its annual report on the town and, sure enough, community facilities decrease.

A group diligently read through the work needed for the fabric of the church.

The church architects, building council and Historic England have faith in the structure, the latter having offered over £70k to restore the roof. Obviously, they would not have offered a new roof for an unsound building.

Yet in order to restore and achieve a heritage community venue, aspirations need to look towards larger grants and partners and learn from successful ventures in other churches, from folk who have succeeded in how to diversify.

So, training to take on a heritage asset is being secured with a second national trust.

Links are being forged with county trusts, local property and heritage specialists and some business minds.

Contact is kept with the Friends and others that used the building.

Now all we need is you. If you were one of the 1,500 plus petitioners and/or you fancy an exciting new year project for about three hours a month, come along to the Forest Voluntary Action Forum (FVAF) showcase on Tuesday, January 24 between 10.30am and 2.30pm at Cinderford Rugby Club to consider being a trustee.

St John’s will be one of a number of stalls. Afterwards FVAF will provide training on what it means to be a trustee. The energy is already there.

– Fran Challice, Coleford.