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Let there be light - the campaign to light up Lancashire's churches

PUBLISHED: 10:04 23 July 2019

St Walburge's Church

St Walburge's Church

Archant

One avid campaigner is on a mission to illuminate and showcase the beauty of Lancashire churches

The Rose WindowThe Rose Window

A city skyline offers many reasons to cast your eyes towards the heavens and there's now a new reason to look up at one of Preston's most famous landmarks.

The beautiful stained glass Rose Window at St Walburge's church is now illuminated throughout the night, providing a stunning kaleidoscope of colours .

The creative mind behind the project is Christine Burns, an actor and avid campaigner who said: 'I'm lucky, I live directly opposite the beautiful church and the window is something I have always looked at.

'But one evening I passed by it and I had a light bulb moment; how beautiful would it look if the window was lit up from the inside throughout the evening? So with that thought I stormed ahead like I always do and decided to do everything I could to make it happen!'

Richard Hallas, Anthony Zitzen, Warren Eastham, Stephen Raphael and Brian Mayor who installed the lights in St Walburge's ChurchRichard Hallas, Anthony Zitzen, Warren Eastham, Stephen Raphael and Brian Mayor who installed the lights in St Walburge's Church

Even without the huge Rose Window illuminated, St Walburge's is pretty eye-catching. It was built in the mid-19th century to a design by Joseph Hansom,the man most famous for the cab which bears his name, but who also designed Birmingham Town Hall and more than 100 churches around the country.

The famous spire at St Walburge's was added a few years after the church opened and is the highest non-cathedral spire in the UK and, at 300 feet, is the tallest built from the ground.

Christine's project to light up the church is the latest in a series of campaigns she has organised.

Her campaigning started in Alderley Edge in Cheshire, when she protested against the removal of a horse chestnut tree and she's since spearheaded other endeavours including the Play Safe in the Park Campaign which led to safer play equipment throughout UK parks and Belt Up in the Back Campaign to get rear seat belts installed in cars.

'I see myself as a bit of problem solver,' she said. 'I could never sit on a committee and discuss ideas, I have to get out there and knock on people's doors to get these changes to happen now.'

Before she made any changes at St Walburge's, Christine visited churches around the country to see how they've done it and then she contacted some major lighting companies.

'After getting no responses back, I stumbled across Electric Centre based in Blackburn. Within a couple of days, I got a call from Warren Eastham. I brought him to the church and he was absolutely blown away by it. As a gesture of goodwill he offered us LED lights at wholesale prices and offered to fit them as well.

'I was completely over the moon. He brought a team of professionals in after work and they braved the high ceilings and set up the lights.'

They used more than 100 LED lights and Christine launched fundraising drives which gave members of the public the chance to buy a bulb or to dedicate an entire window to a loved one.

'That was incredibly popular,' she said. 'Many people thought that a window dedicated to a lost love one in a church is something truly special. Once lit up, it's absolutely beautiful. When I see
it at night, I feel incredibly lucky that this is my view.'

Christine is now planning to light up other churches around the county, including St Saviour's Church at Aughton in the Lune Valley.

'I've already had other churches contact me about helping them to light up, which to me speaks of a successful campaign.'

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