Rev urges drinkers to ‘raise a glass’ to £4.5m plans for church

A CLERGYMAN is urging drinkers to “raise a glass” to £4.5m plans to transform England’s largest parish church.

Rev Matt Woodcock who will be pulling pints at next week's Hull Real Ale and Cider Festival.
Rev Matt Woodcock who will be pulling pints at next week's Hull Real Ale and Cider Festival.

Festival-goers will be urged to take and share their own ‘selfies’ with a pint of beer at Holy Trinity Church next week, when it hosts the Hull Real Ale and Cider Festival for the fourth year running.

The Rev Matt Woodcock, who will be taking his own selfie today to promote the event, said it was a “bit of fun” and a way of interacting with nearly 3,000 followers on Twitter, many of whom do not go to church.

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More than £2m has been donated so far – including £130,000 from an unnamed benefactor –to transform the Grade I-listed church and make it a key cultural and tourism venue. Drinkers will be asked to donate a £1.50 beer token to the regeneration fund and pledge their support for the changes.

There has been some opposition to plans to remove pews to form a space for banquets, concerts and cultural events and take down the churchyard wall, but Mr Woodcock said: “Unfortunately these are non-negotiable.”

He said: “None of the great cathedrals have pews in there – in a sense they are the newest things in there as they were built in Victorian times. The pew ends will be carefully preserved so while I can understand why people might be upset we have to do what we believe is right for the church.”

Mr Woodcock will be pulling pints throughout the event. He said: “It’s just an incredible way to engage with people. It is one of the highlights of my year – and not just because of the beer.”

After initial misgivings Hull Civic Society has backed the plans, which include felling 10 trees, including a towering black poplar.

The proposals, which still need approval from councillors and the Diocese of York, involve building a glass-walled cafe and extension, with seating outside and fountains, and a shop, which should bring in much needed revenue. Removing the wall aims to make the church and Trinity Square a seamless space.