A YORKSHIRE rector who handed out £550 in crisp tenners to his congregation in the hope they would invest it to help with church repairs has had his prayers answered as they handed back nearly £9,000 yesterday.
The staggering return on his generosity, which amounted to over 16 times his original outlay, not only humbled the Rev Richard Steel but mean the renovations can now be completed.
Mr Steel, 55, rector at Kirkheaton Parish Church, in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, decided to put his hand in his own pocket last November to help with a final push to raise £73,000 for building work.
Taking his cue from the Parable of the Talents – where Jesus tells the story of a man who entrusts money to his servants – Mr Steel wanted to see some creative ideas for a return on his investment.
But he admitted he had never expected such a huge response.
He said: “The whole thing has been fantastic and very heartwarming. Everyone involved has dug deep and been very, very thoughtful.
“One 11-year-old girl handed me £550, she has been making cards and selling them for 75p each, that is a lot of cards.
“Another woman just handed me £50, she said she didn’t know what to do but works as a volunteer and sometimes she gets paid so she gave me a day’s wages.
“One man was left some jewellery after his mother died and has been selling pieces of it, he gave £500.
“Nine thousand pounds is such a tremendous total and much of it has been raised by the congregation, along with gifts and donations from others.
“The whole process has been really life inspiring to those taking part. I just want to say a huge thank you to the congregation. They are a fantastic bunch of people.”
Engineer Steve Jackson, 49, was one of the congregation who took a tenner and it helped him start making bird boxes, a surprisingly lucractive sideline that has brought in over £700.
He said: “The £10 spurred me on to get started. I’ve made about 30 and I am stopping taking orders after Easter.”