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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Wirral shrine church wins national award for Second World War audio tour for children

 

A Catholic church in the Wirral has won a national competition for an audio tour which brings the Second World War to life for local children.

The “WWII Audio Tour” of the shrine Church of Ss Peter, Paul and St Philomena in New Brighton was announced as the winner of the Marsh Innovative Church Project Award at a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Tuesday.

The church received a prize of £1,000.

A free WWII audio tour for primary schools and the local community tells the story of how this church helped people during the Blitz and how it earned the nickname of “the Dome of Home”.

The tour was made possible after major repairs and redevelopment to create a welcoming church including an accessible toilet, kitchenette, shop, and social space.

The judges commented: “This project is strong on community engagement, imagination, and innovation.

“We particularly liked the successful engagement with schools, raising awareness about local history and heritage and bringing generations together and the past to life.”

The Marsh Innovative Church Project Award is a competition to find Christian congregations running the best community activities in a church, made possible through installation of new facilities or through improved access.

Five projects were shortlisted.

 

 

The awards show the positive impact that installing new facilities has on churches and local communities, and on harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers.

They are run jointly by the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church building support charity, and the Marsh Christian Trust.

Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, said: “I am delighted that the Dome of Home, a landmark on the Wirral, has won the Marsh Innovative Church Projects Award.

“The judges were so impressed with the way it engages with schools and raises awareness about local history, bringing generations together.”

The Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena was closed in 2008, but was reopened by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury in 2012 as a shrine under the custody of the Institute of Christ the King, a society of apostolic life of pontifical right, with the specific mission of fostering Eucharistic Adoration.

Three major repair projects have restored it since that time, accompanied by an accessible toilet, kitchenette, shop, and partitioned area for refreshments.

These changes have enabled the church to welcome primary school groups for the WWII Audio Tour.

Dramatisations of experiences of the Blitz from the local community are accompanied by traditional music and images, and children can dress up to travel back in time.

The tour is accessed on smartphones or tablets from codes around the church. This engages a younger audience with the heritage of the church, and with their local area.

Nearly 200 pupils have experienced the tour so far – welcomed into the landmark church at the heart of their community.

The church is closer to attaining a sustainable future, with enthusiastic volunteers and a steady stream of visitors.

The judges for the Marsh Innovative Church Project Awards were: Luke March, chairman of the National Churches Trust; Emily Reeves and Annie McCarthy from the Marsh Christian Trust, and Sam Jones, managing director of community music organisation Soundthread.

The runner-up for the Marsh Innovative Church Project Award is Olly’s Friendship Room, at St Michael and All Angels Church, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire.

Olly’s Friendship Room is a large light welcoming space in the back of the church, heated separately, where the whole community can meet in friendship, supporting each other. It is named after Olly Roberts, a young man who grew up attending this church but died in 2012 aged 32, suffering extreme anxiety (Akathisia) due to an adverse reaction to a prescribed medication.

A successful photographer, film maker and composer, he left money and equipment hoping to enable those suffering from anxiety to receive help.

Brian Marsh, chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, said: “We set up this Award with the National Churches Trust to recognise the excellent work being done by church volunteers in transforming their places of worship and to help expand their work in addressing local need within their communities.

“We hope that the Award will help highlight the outstanding efforts of these volunteers in reaching out and supporting those in need.”

 

(Photographs show the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena and Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff with Anne Archer, Canon Amaury Montjean and Jane Scott from the church)